A century and a half after Edouard Manet’s art sparked the modernist movement, his works are still inspiring artistic innovation.
A new exhibit at the School of Art’s Green Hall Gallery titled “For Ed: Splendor in the Grass with Olympic Lad and Lass” opened last week to mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of Manet’s masterpieces “Olympia” and “Dejeuner sur l’herbe.” The exhibit, which had its opening reception yesterday evening, features work by Yale undergraduates and School of Art students, alumni and faculty. “For Ed” is largely a response to the two Manet paintings, said Associate Dean of the School of Art Samuel Messer. He added that the exhibit is related to “Lunch with Olympia,” another exhibit inspired by Manet’s art that is currently on at the school’s 32 Edgewood Ave. gallery.
“[For Ed] is the students saying, ‘If the famous artists can do it, we can do it, too,’” Messer said.
The works on display include photographs, paintings, videos, a giant paper maché sculpture, a hanging rope that viewers are encouraged to cut with scissors and a sports jersey placed next to a screen playing cat videos, among other pieces.
Johanna Flato ’14, a humanities and art double major in the painting concentration, made pillows covered with Astroturf and grass prints for the exhibit. Flato emphasized the timelessness of the themes in the two Manet paintings — themes that include bodies, landscapes and their objectification. She said her work aims to evoke the idea of the naked body that dominates “Olympia.”
Andy Clifford, an employee of the Art School who installs art in the school’s two galleries, created a piece that uses an algorithm to find the viewer’s eyes and project them on a wall. Clifford said his work aims to respond to the gaze of the main figure in “Olympia,” which he said he found striking.
“You’re disembodied — it’s like there’s someone staring back at you,” he said.
Clifford, who also helped hang the “Lunch with Olympia” exhibit at the 32 Edgewood Gallery, said he noticed that the pieces at the Green Hall Gallery feature more literal responses to the Manet paintings than those at 32 Edgewood. Witnessing “For Ed” come together has made him more interested in the literal reinterpretations of a work of art and in how altering one aspect of a piece can result in a new work, he said.
Flato said she began working on her pillows before “Lunch with Olympia” opened.
“Some of the pieces [in Green Hall] are continuations of specific thoughts [in 32 Edgewood]” she said. “But I see both exhibits as a collective response to certain ideas.”
Wesley Chavis ’14, an art major in the painting concentration, said he approached his work for the exhibit as an independent project and only later explored its relationship to the Manet paintings. His drawing features a figure that stretches across two panels, one of which has a split piece of bread attached to it. He said that the figure represents Mary Magdalene and that the bread — which serves to sustain life — symbolizes God.
Flato said that though many pieces in “For Ed” respond to different aspects of Manet’s work, all works featured in the exhibit somehow address the naked woman in “Olympia.”
Chavis said that “For Ed” includes the works of renowned artists such as Kenny Rivero, Chie Fueki and Awol Erizku. Flato said she has enjoyed seeing the students’ pieces hang next to the works of established artists.
“The exhibit is about mixing up and re-representing,” she said.
“For Ed: Splendor in the Grass with Olympia Lad and Lass” is on display until Nov. 22.