Constructing a sociology for an icon of aesthetic modernity: Olympia revisited

Sociological Theory 15 (2):101-125 (1997)
I address the problem of constructing a sociology of the artwork through analyzing one particular painting-Manet's Olympia. The painting is an acknowledged icon of modernist art and has been variously located in discourses concerning modernity, gender, and sexuality in the modern world. My purpose is to locate this painting and modernist painting generally in the social formation. While the interpretation of a particular work of art plays a central part, here the ground of that interpretation lies in social theory. Modernist art, and Manet's work in particular, is seen as a response to the growing disjunction between "instrumental" and "solidary" social relations-a disjunction fully acknowledged in the development of classical social theory. This changing relationship is reflected in the construction of discourses centered on value and motive. It is argued that Manet's modernism instantiates a spiritual resistance to the corruption of value by motive inherent in modernity and marked by a whole range of sociological discourses-commodification, alienation, rationality, disenchantment, and so forth. I identify a specific cultural configuration at the heart of bourgeois ideology involving gender and social class, and seek to show how Manet's painting subverts and deconstructs this configuration as a discourse of social formation. The semiotic possibilities made available by a modernist "presentational code"-the cultivation of flatness, the suppression of modelling and interaction, the use of dense allusive cultural reference, and the adaption of foreign and exotic pictorial techniques, etc.-are all seen as key to the deconstructive work that the painting accomplishes
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/0735-2751.00027
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,037
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

29 ( #143,634 of 1,934,423 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #113,193 of 1,934,423 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.