Miss Representation posted this collage of GQ’s men and woman of the year.
“Picnic in the Grass” by Edouard Manet.
I just saw this painting at the Musee D’Orsay in July when I was visiting Paris with my eight year old daughter. She asked me why the men were dressed and the woman was naked.
Here’s Miss Representation’s answer:
On the multiple covers of their latest issue, all of GQ’s “men of the year” are dressed exactly the same, while their singular “woman of the year” – singer Lana Del Rey – is not dressed at all. The implication is that the men here are valuable for something beyond what they look like (since they are all presented almost identically), but that the woman is valuable only for what she looks like (since she is visually presented so differently from the others).
Manet’s painting was completed in 1863. We’ve been looking at this same old image of dressed men and naked women for years before and years since. We’ve been looking at it for so long, it seems normal to everyone except for crazy feminists or little kids.
It’s only “normal” because throughout history, there haven’t been enough recognized women artists. In 2012, there aren’t enough women on magazine covers who are celebrated for their achievements and not “beauty.” Lana Del Rey, by the way, is a singer. Do you think that if she’d refused to pose naked, GQ would let her on the cover? Or would GQ’s response be more like Vanity Fair’s when Rachel McAdams wouldn’t shed her clothes for that magazine’s cover? There’s Scarlett Johanssen and Keira Knightley, but McAdams went missing.
That naked woman in Manet’s painting? Her name is Victorine Louise Meurent. Besides being Manet’s favorite model, she was also an artist. She had a self-portrait at the 1876 Salon when Manet’s submission was rejected. Ever heard of her? She died an alcoholic, in poverty.
And Manet? We’re still imitating him on the cover of GQ. It’s time for a change, a little more originality, please. Isn’t that what art is supposed to celebrate, after all?