Value in Art

Sayre Henry M
"How did art critics come to speak of light and dark as, respectively, "high in value" and "low in value." In this book, Henry Sayre traces the origins of this usage in one of art history's most famous and racially charged paintings, Manet's Olympia. Masterfully researched and argued, this bold study reveals the extraordinary weight of history and politics that Manet's painting bears, and the presence of slavery at modernism's roots. Sayre shows that it was âEmile Zola who introduced a new "law of values" to art criticism in an 1867 essay on Manet. Unpacking the intricate contexts of Zola's essay and of several related paintings of Manet, Sayre argues that Zola's use of the economic metaphor of "value" was doubly coded. On the one hand, it was a feint that deflected attention away from Olympia's actual subject and toward the painting's formal qualities. On the other, Sayre argues, "value" for Zola was a trope for the political economy of slavery and the Second Empire's complicity in the ongoing slave trade in the Americas. Value in Art is a surprising and necessary intervention in our understanding of modern art's emergence in relation to issues of race"--
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Art historian Henry M. Sayre traces the origins of the term "value" in art criticism, revealing the politics that define Manet's art.

How did art critics come to speak of light and dark as, respectively, "high in value" and "low in value"? In this book, Henry M. Sayre traces the origin of this usage to one of art history's most famous and racially charged paintings, Édouard Manet's Olympia.

Art critics once described light and dark in painting in terms of musical metaphor--higher and lower tones, notes, and scales. Sayre shows that it was Émile Zola who introduced the new "law of values" in an 1867 essay on Manet. Unpacking the intricate contexts of Zola's essay and of several related paintings by Manet, Sayre argues that Zola's usage of value was intentionally double coded--an economic metaphor for the political economy of slavery. In Manet's painting, Olympia and her maid represent objects of exchange, a commentary on the French Empire's complicity in the ongoing slave trade in the Americas.

Expertly researched and argued, this bold study reveals the extraordinary weight of history and politics that Manet's painting bears. Locating the presence of slavery at modernism's roots, Value in Art is a surprising and necessary intervention in our understanding of art history.

More Information
Publisher University of Chicago Press
ISBN-10 022680982X
ISBN-13 9780226809823
GTIN-13 9780226809823
GTIN-14 09780226809823
Subtitle Manet and the Slave Trade
Author Sayre Henry M
Edition 1
Language Code eng
Page Count 256
Publication Date Feb 1, 2022
Dimension 7 in 10 in 0 in