May 21, 2010

Monet vs. Manet

I wanted to thank the source of this piece. But I think they went out of business, but their piece lingers on. I enjoyed reading it and must cast my vote for Manet's work. Why do I like him better? Who knows.

Claude Monet and Edourad Manet (pronounced like Edward without the “d” at the end) were French impressionist painters in the 19th century. Monet painted a ton of landscapes and scenes while Manet did a lot of work with people as the main subjects. The whole French Impressionist movement is named after a painting by Monet called “Impression, Sunrise.” Most of the paintings in the movement have lots of brush strokes, gobs of paint, and not much worrying about lines in favor of utilizing lots of light and color.

Monet didn’t rip off other artists as many of his contemporaries did, preferring to paint what he saw with his own two eyes. He spent a couple years in Algeria fighting as part of the Calvary before his aunt sprung him from service. Upon returning home, Monet painted his future-wife along with outdoor scenes and started garnering some acclaim. Problem is, acclaim and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee on the corner, so Monet jumped in to the Seine river in 1868 to try and kill himself because he was broke and couldn’t support his girlfriend and their new baby. Eventually, he swam to shore, toweled off, and got back to painting. He traveled to England and Amsterdam a bit, got married, had another kid, and settled in Giverny. After a few years, Monet was banking enough cash to buy his own house and some land. He married again after his first wife died and traveled some more around Europe. Monet lived a long happy life painting landscapes and water lilies on a farm surrounded by his loving family and big potato sacks full of cash* before dying of lung cancer at age 86. In 2004, one of his painting sold for 20 million smackers.

*(He probably didn’t have big sacks of cash, but he did have some money finally and didn’t die a pauper like lots of artists.)

On the other hand, Manet used a lot more lines in his paintings then other Impressionist painters and preferred painting in a studio to being outdoors. He was born in to money and used it to set up his own exhibits when more traditional studios and exhibitors rejected his works. At the same time, he worked to get his paintings in to the Paris Salon, which was kind of a big deal. His painting “Olympia” got everyone all up in a tizzy because the main subject is presumably a courtesan, which is a fancy way of saying “high class hooker”. She’s laying on a bed nude with lots of “come hither” accents (orchid in the hair, bouquet of flowers, black cat on the bed). I was under the impression that Paris in 1863 was probably a pretty sexually liberated place, but whatever. Manet also painted war scenes which made the government angry. In fact, he has a slew of paintings that he was not permitted to display because they didn’t paint the French military and government in a great light. Manet married a piano teacher, which is rather uninteresting until you consider she was also sleeping with his Dad. They didn’t get married til Manet’s Dad passed away and their 11 year old son could have easily been either Manet or his Dad’s child. That said, it probably doesn’t matter in hindsight because the kid’s surname was going to be “Manet” either way. Manet had a much more colorful demise than Monet as he suffered through syphilis, rheumatism, and ganggrene before passing away at the age of 51. One of his paintings also fetched 20 million dollars in 2000, which no doubt pleased his great-grandchildren.


Monet: outdoor scenes, tried to kill himself, married twice, two kids from the first woman, retired to Giverny and finally made some loot in his later days.

Manet: indoor scenes and people, war scenes, shared a girlfriend with his dad, died of some nasty stuff at a relatively early age.

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