Comparison of the TV Bra for Living Sculpture and the Olympia
Art will always remain part and parcel of life. It has been there since time immemorial and there are several household names that are known for various pieces of art.
The Olympia and the TV Bra for Living Sculpture are such pieces of art that have brought some form of controversy in the subject matter that they have and will be the focus of discussion in this paper. The Olympia was done by Edouard Manet, a French painter in 1863. This painting caused such uproar when it was presented at the Salon in 1865 and the authorities at the Salon were forced to put it further up and put two armed guards to prevent the painting from being damaged by the public. The painting encompasses a reclining nude woman being tended to by a black maid while a black cat is on the far right of the bed where the woman is lying gazing rather mysteriously to the viewer of the painting. The TV Bra for Living Sculpture is a piece of work done by Nam June Paik in 1969 and is found in the Walk Art Center. It is made of video tubes, television, rheostat, Plexiglas boxes, vinyl straps, foot switches, cables and copper wire. All these were connected to resemble a bra, which is a piece of cloth used by women to hold their breasts in place. According to Salter, p.116, it is used to portray how electronics can be humanized since it entails the use of a TV as a bra; a bra is something that is considered intimate to the female human being, and it is so unlikely that a TV can be used as a bra. That being, the idea was to stimulate the fantasy of finding a new, imaginative and humanistic use of technology. Both artists, Edouard Manet and Nam June Paik are renowned artists. This is mostly due to the style of art that they engage in, for example, Manet was known for a series of paintings featuring naked women such as the Le Dejeuner sur I'Herbe. On the same scale, Nam June Paik did a number of electronically inspired arts throughout the 1960’s such as the TV chair, Opus paintings, TV cello and TV garden among others (Smithsonian American Art Museum, p.2). All these pieces of art encompassed electronics being portrayed in a unique way. While the Olympia is made of oil paint the TV bra for living sculpture is made of various electronic devices such as copper wires, cables, switches and a TV screen. These two pieces have different materials but this does not make them any less desirable. The Olympia measures 130.5 by 190 centimeters and Manet used strong brush strokes which many people considered to be unfashionable at that moment since it was the kind of painting that little children used to practice their painting skills (Courtesans, p.1). The painting has a great contrast between the dark part that is on the background and the lighting on the foreground. The lighting gives focus to the woman lying on the bed as opposed to the other components of the painting such as the maidservant that is serving the lady as well as the cat that is on the bed (Courtesans, p.1). This serves to give the painting a desirable effect in addition to contributing to the thematic concern of the paint. The composition of the Olympia is not very different from other pieces of its time. However, the only unique aspect of its composition is that Manet took what was a classical composition and put it in a contemporary setting that could be referred to everyone else (Wallace, p.1). This was achieved by the use of the woman of a common origin bringing a sense of immediacy to the painting. On the other hand, the composition of the TV bra for living sculpture is rather unique since it encompasses the use of modern