Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Day 2: A Room with a View, Remembering Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life Between 1854 and 1855 Oil on Canvas H. 361; W. 598 cm Paris, musée d'Orsay © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
The Artist’s Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life
Between 1854 and 1855
Oil on Canvas
H. 361; W. 598 cm
Paris, musée d’Orsay
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

I walked around in a cold, darkened room, and there it was—Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio. I stood in awe for a moment, taking it in. I walked near it to see the details of the paint. I moved back so I can see its entirety once I again. I sat down on the bench and I cried, the emotions overflowing. I never thought it would be like this, to sit here and wonder.

Today’s assignment is about a room with a view. If I could travel through space quickly, where would I choose to be? My immediate thought was Berlin, one of my favorite cities. But lying in bed, my mind went to Musée d’Orsay and Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio. It was the very first time that I felt so emotional while standing in front of a painting. I was exhausted at the time. Paris proved to be so overwhelming compared to Berlin, everyone seems to be rushing. I often felt that tourists will crush me. There seems to be no quiet moment here. Then I went to Musée d’Orsay, and it all changed. I remembered why I was here. I remembered the power of art. When the opportunity came, I knew I had to see what I’ve only known through books and online images.

The small reproduction in books and even the high-definition reproductions online did not prepare me for the intensity of Courbet’s painting. It was larger than an ordinary wall, at the height of 361cm and width of 598 cm. I am not so good with numbers but the best way I can elaborate the sheer size of this painting is a large, high-ceiling wall, full of images to overwhelm. Absorbing the details would be challenging at first, as you try to take in the magnanimity of the oil paint.

Yet, this is a realist work. It directly challenged the academic style of the time. It is important to note the political charge of realism. Aside from his paintings, Gustave Courbet was known to write the Realist Manifesto, in a similar vein of a political manifesto in 19th century France. He was imprisoned because of his political activism in the Paris Commune. The 19th century was also the time that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto that inspired various proletarian revolutions. These circumstances would resonate in Gustave Courbet’s work, particularly in The Painter’s Studio.

The Painter’s Studio features a room divided into two sides. On the right, there is a formal feeling amidst the art collector, critic, writer, and lovers. While on the left are everyday people such as a priest, hunter, model, and beggar. The challenge of combining the two seemingly opposing sides lie with Gustave Courbet, as he painted himself in the middle. With him is his female muse, a child and a cat. This divide and conversation still resonate today, as one part of society thrives through elitism while another part languishes in poverty.

The most poignant part is the role of the artist in between. Art should not be a divisive platform but something that should remove such a divide. Gustave Courbet bridges the gap and in my idealist mind eventually creates an egalitarian society. The Painter’s Studio is not just a criticism of the time but also a challenge to the role that the artist and art can perform in a divided society.

The Painter’s Studio was rejected by the 1855 Universal Exhibition. This prompted Gustave Courbet to pull out all his works and create the Realism Pavilion, a solo exhibition at his own expense. This would serve as an inspiration later on for Impressionists and their Salon des Refusés. Though the Impressionists would still feature everyday life in their works, it is not as politically-charged as the Realists. Realism claimed everyday life and looked at poverty and suffering straight in the eyes. They rejected the elitism of academic art and looked at the proletarian that was historically ignored, giving inspiration and fire to the revolution.

My mind brings me back to that bench, as I was sitting there, looking at the painting. It was cold and dark. The lighting gives the painting a little glare so you need to move a little to see each part. The tourists seem to be rushing about, noisily, most times. As I stayed there for a while, I eventually caught some silent moments with the painting. I want to hold that moment in space and time, as passion burns for the labor that I love. In the vein of Courbet’s work, I hope for a revolution yet to come.

Reference:

Finocchio, Ross. “Nineteenth-Century French Realism”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rlsm/hd_rlsm.htm (October 2004)

“Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio”. Musée d’Orsay Website. http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/latelier-du-peintre-7091.html?no_cache=1 (2006)

Advertisements

2 comments on “Day 2: A Room with a View, Remembering Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio

  1. Christoph_Orr
    April 7, 2015

    You’ve made this prompt your own in such a spectacular way. I didn’t expect to be reading about art today, that’s for sure. Your description really made it seem that I was stood in front of the painting as well.
    Now I feel like I’ve got a long way to go!

    • Portia Placino
      April 7, 2015

      Thanks! I love art and I love writing about it, though I’m not so confident about it at times. A writing journey is certainly something that never ends, I wish I have your way with describing things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Archives

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,571 other followers

Follow Portia Placino on WordPress.com

Instagram

Sometimes, Momma Kangaroo needs to take care of herself. Been sick and stressed, so its time for a cut. We found a magic window of time when bébé just finished nursing and there's an available stylist on the dot. So here we are. #babynarratives
Pssst! Pikachu, come here, I have something to tell you. Lol. Its nice to see the little one happily play. She's been irritable last week, and as her pedia confirmed yesterday, she has atopic dermatitis (eczema). Good thing the anti-histamine helped her. I've been worrying about her rashes and I thought we did something terribly wrong. All her clothes are cotton or organic cotton and washed with delicate detergent, her body wash js hypoallergenic, and she's exclusively breastfed. With a bit of poking around, turns out its genetic, she got it from her Dad's side of the family. The doctor said she may still outgrow this. Tomorrow, we'll be out shopping for skincare products specifically for baby eczema. I was advised to continue breastfeeding her and to exclusively breastfeed as long as possible, the pedia said it is her best hope of outgrowing this. In a way, it is good that it was diagnosed early, so it can be addressed. The greater fear is for the condition to develop into asthma, something we really hope to avoid. The stakes for continuing to breastfeed just got higher. Sigh. Also, I need to avoid food with high allergens, as it may trigger flare-ups. As for the environment, we need to constantly keep dust in check and keep the air quality as good as possible. Hopefully this may convince people that smoke such as those from katol is indeed very bad. We'll work through this hiccup. 1 in 5 babies are apparently affected with atopic dermatitis and most will outgrow it by age 2. I really hope our little one does so as well. #babynarratives
This is why co-sleeping is really not for us. Aside from my fear if SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), the little girl just won't stay still. Being on bed just isn't safe for her. But this is so funny. She loves moving towards her Daddy and beating him like crazy. Lol. #babynarratives
You ARE your father's daughter. Lol. She fell asleep while playing. The little one attended my meeting with me. Then decided to pee, poop, poop, and poop, while her Daddy was changing her nappies. Suffice it to say that as challenging as today was, it was hilarious. #babynarratives
I got this catalog from the mail today. I miss Korea so badly... I wish I was able to see this show, but at least I got to see the catalog. Thanks @jpark782 and congrats @mark_salvatus #art #catalog #korea
The little one is 15 weeks old today... She's so active and she grew up so fast right before our eyes! She's having a bit of sleep regression right now, she can't seem to get back to sleep after waking up at 4-5 am. Still a good sleeper, considering, as she's in bed by 7pm. But rashes have begun to plague us, and we're still figuring it out. Our pedia thinks it might be allergic dermatitis, good thing we have a scheduled visit soon. Thank goodness I can text her anytime and send pictures through Viber. Her trunk, arms, and legs are affected. She already uses hypoallergenic soap, 100% cotton clothes, and her clothes are washed with gentle detergent. Next to check is the diet, as she only eats breastmilk, we are now checking MY diet. For now, no deep sea fishes, shrimps, or shellfish. I've already cut down on milk when she pooped watery green poop, especially with fenugreek, that I've also cut out. I ate peanut butter in the morning, and as nuts have high allergens, we're cutting that too. My goodness, this is not easy. We've also allowed a visit from the pet poodle the past week, so I'm cutting that again, just in case dander really irritates her. We'll just do a slow reintroduction of stuff once she gets better and older. So many worries, though the pedia told us not to be. Back to anti-histamine, amd hope we defeat the rashes soon! This is my last weekend as a stay at home mom and I'm still working on my syllabi for the upcoming semester. Whew. #babynarratives
%d bloggers like this: