Empire Reading of Manet's Execution of Maximilian: Critical Visual Aesthetics and Antenarrative Spectrality

David Boje


I am researching the five versions of the Manet series on the Execution. Believe it or not, the paintings (and a lithograph I am still searching for) are the subject of heated debate in visualization, historical narrative, and painting research. My contribution is to argue that Manet's visual aesthetics is coming into vogue, and a two traditional aesthetics (empire and traditional monarchy) are declining, being revised, and the official aesthetic is resisting with acts of censorship because of Manet's critique of empire. There are competing aesthetics theorists, such as Bataille (1955), Larsen (1990), and Wilson-Bareau (1992) who argue different ways of viewing the aesthetics of Manet's 4th painted version of “The Execution of Maximilian” (see Version 4). 

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