Yesterday I travelled to London for a nurse related meeting and used the opportunity from 8pm - 11pm to take in the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Brilliant! It is a great event. There really is no comparison apart from the very high resolution close examination that our technology makes possible; but then that is a difference experience, a different purpose.
Manet's work at the RA includes paintings that do appear unfinished. Areas of the canvas being unresolved brings home the relationship and dependency of the artist with the subject, and the artist's approach to portraiture. Manet was quite demanding on his subjects apparently and while not completely averse, he did not routinely rely on the new opportunities that photography afforded. Here are some thoughts from the Art Fund website:
In nursing we are accustomed to impatient patients. Many though have no choice but to 'sit' and 'lie'. They are static, not able to walk or run away.
Manet was a great risk-taker and critics of day rallied against his inconsistent approach, as you will see many of the works seem 'unresolved' or 'unfinished' but one of Manet's great skills was this ability to stop painting at the right moment, and it is this technique which gives the works a sense of movement and life.
'Summer' or 'The Amazon', by Edouard Manet
Manet once said to his friend Antonin Proust, 'I must be seen whole. Don't let me go piecemeal into the public collections; I would not be fairly judged.' This exhibition, which brings together the largest selection of works by the artist to be exhibited together in a UK museum, is a great opportunity to judge Manet's extraordinary talent as a 'whole'.
Unconscious patients - we speak to them: redrawing the outlines. Searching verbally where we cannot go, reaching for the centers of personhood. We sculpt them back to their optimal health. Sometimes the brush strokes are urgent, sometimes we improvise with touch.
All the time an ideal: a portrait of care. No matter how busy we are basic nursing care should never remain unresolved.
That part of the canvas is always completed. The outline is integrated. The horizon, foreground, middle and background may be sketchy in the extreme cases, but the real mission critical bases are covered.
What we should never countenance, collude, or indirectly sanction are the cutting of those bases.
If we do the work of art is not just unfinished: it is corrupt.
The Francis Report
Anagram graphic c/o Wordsmith
Manet's 'The Amazon' from: Reproarte.com