Inspired by a pivotal work in French painting, Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, Christiane Steffens embarked on an artistic inquiry into sustainability challenges. The result will amaze you.
Christiane's presentation is about an artistic inquiry into sustainability challenges. Her project is a sustainable reenactment of the tableau as depicted in Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, a pivotal work in French painting. The imagery is well-known and caused a scandal when first exhibited. The painting features a nude woman lunching with two wholly dressed men – a contrast unseen. She stares directly at the viewer, which was considered to be another provocation. The men are dressed as dandies. The women is sitting on her clothes. Next to these clothes we see a bread and a fruit basket, as in a still life. To Émile Zola, Manet’s Déjeuner is his greatest work, one in which he succeeds to place figures of natural grandeur in a landscape.
Christiane shows the display of a patchwork quilt of reused pieces of cloth. This quilt has the same measures of the original Manet canvas (208 by 264.5 centimeters). The linen patches embrace the same color spectrum as the Déjeuner. Each patch has one of the dominant colors of Manet’s painting, and the ensemble of patches reflects the color impression the painting makes on the spectator, with green, blue and black overtones. In that respect, the quilt has a pixel-like quality. Who has seen the Déjeuner will recognize it instantly.
The quilt is a creative example of sustainability – not only sustainability in the sense of reused cloth, but also sustainability of ideas and motives as they are expressed in major works of art. Manet’s masterpiece itself echoed existing pictorial patterns – as the theme of the pick-nick was to be abundantly found in older gravures.
The quilt may serve as a lieu d’innovation – a place where people can sit together – either on the quilt or around it – to exchange views, ideas, and stories. The quilt can also be ‘visited’, or ‘occupied’, by individuals allowing them for meditation and prayer possibly offering inspiration.