Friday, 8 December 2006

Le De'jeuner sur l'Herbe

Or Breakfast on Grass or something like that. When I first saw this painting I was amazed. I couldn't really say why but it fascinated me. I know now that Manet was a very controversial painter and that his naked ladies looked like and probably were prostitutes. Naked women in art at that time were goddesses of Greek mythology and that was acceptable but real women without clothes were shocking.

When I saw the picture for the first time I saw some men, wearing clothes, reclining leisurely, seeming to have a good time. With them is a girl who is naked. There is another woman in the background wearing a very thin dress or garment. They are having a picnic and everything seems calm and peaceful. Still there is the question; why are the men dressed and the women naked or less dressed?

The situation intrigued me. There is an inequality in the picture, dressed men and naked women. Being naked is being more vulnerable, less protected and, maybe, it can be a bit humiliating, as well, if you are embarrassed about it. Being naked is being sexy too and that is exciting.

I didn't know anything about the circumstances and the interpretation of the image, that the women probably were professionals and that the whole thing is staged. In my mind I conjured up images of lovely summer days with groups of young men and women having picnics in green parks where the men reclined leisurely after having eaten while the women stripped off and were naked. I don't know why they would do that but the situation is quite exciting.

I am thinking how it would be sitting there in a crowd of people having no clothes on and I am the only one being naked. They are clothed and they are protected while I am naked and exposed and everyone can see me as I am. I feel sexy, maybe, and very exposed. It is like in one of those dreams where you run around naked (if you have had one of those dreams) and don't understand why.

I like to be the woman in the image, at least in my imagination. I would have mixed feelings about it, being embarrassed and feeling slightly humiliated and at the same time feeling sexy and excited. Still the image of this picnic is a very nice image, one that I like to keep close to my heart.

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