Matisse to modernity: the evolution of black female models in art

In 1863, the French artist Édouard Manet painted Olympia , a reclining nude prostitute, shedding a scandalous light on Parisian brothel culture. But while much of the attention has been on the white model in the painting, Victorine Meurent, the black model beside her, Laure, has been largely overlooked by art historians. “People have told me, ‘It’s not that I didn’t see the black maid in the painting, I just didn’t know what to say about her’,” said the curator Denise Murrell. “I always felt she is presented in a more stronger light than maids usually are, and I wondered what could be said about her, even though art history said very little.” Snubbed, cheated, erased: the scandal of architecture’s invisible women This one painting then sparked the exhibition which Murrell has curated, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today , opening at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery in New York on 24 October.

Source: Matisse to modernity: the evolution of black female models in art

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