Considerable time spent on the project was learning WordPress since I had absolutely no experience with WordPress, blogging, HTML, social media, or any online tools.

The WordPress Blog

Therefore, the WordPress blog called “Blogging Manet’s Olympia in 1865 – Olympia1865.wordpress.com – has been set up with its foundational design, widgets, attributes, pages, categories/tags and content:

"Olympia 1865" WordPress Blog

Pages

So far, the pages are set up as:

Pages Toolbar

  • About (the Project)
  • Edouard Manet
  • Olympia
  • The Paris Salon
  • Paris of 1865
  • Archives

(and RSS feed – though I want to eliminate this automatically generated one because unless I can make a custom RSS feed, I don’t need to have it there. Can’t find how to eliminate it as option.)

What is quite nice about WordPress is that many themes are set up to display pages in addition to the blog space.  This allows it work as a “quasi-website” with web pages where it looks like if you know some HTML can do additional HTML formatting beyond the WordPress formatting options.

About

Therefore, I set up the pages with the automatic “About” which more discusses the project, what this blog is about, and a bit about the the events surrounding the showing of Manet’s Olympia.  So far, I haven’t decided if any additional items should be in “About” yet.

Edouard Manet

This page is of course about the artist.  I took a somewhat different tack with this page.  It is very simple, put in a humorous, light commentary in the person of Manet speaking.

Edouard Manet Page

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

This also ties into the incredibly humorous, insightful, and INSTRUCTIONAL video by “Master Khufu” from Youtube with Manet doing “childlike sketch drawings” discussing his life and problems. Click below:

I thought it was inventive and played directly into my concept of making the blog “current.”  Manet thus speaks in the current tense in the writeup and in the video.  I wondered how it would play with the more descriptive 21st century pages, and if I should apply “currency” to all pages, or just to some and could add additional 21st century commentary.  Is it okay to mix parody, humor, satire, and serious documentation into one?  The painting Olympia itself was a “victim” of parody, satire, humor, and seriousness.  Does that make sense?

Olympia

This page is about the painting of Olympia.

Olympia Page

The content on this page is from Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams and it is absolutely perfect, current (speaks in a current language), satirical, witty, and well-articulated.  It’s an easy read.  If I had anything to say about Olympia, this is how it would be said.  Her words are memorable and she writes one-liners that are unforgettable:

She was unlike any naked lady who’d ever gone before.

It is this style of writing that I believe makes Olympia current and topical.  It makes it into “today” or “today’s language.”

PROBLEM: One problem is I don’t know if I can post this content on this page, even though I linked it to the Salon article and her bio.

Can I do this?

POSSIBLE ADDITIONS/IDEAS:

  • About Manet’s model Victorine Meurent
  • Images of how Victorine looked in other Manet paintings and the differences and how interestingly she was acceptable in almost all of them.
  • The Suggested History of Olympia’s name and roots
  • The Connotations of Courtesan/Prostitute

The Paris Salon

The Paris Salon page at this point simply has a place holder with a famous painting of the Annual Paris Salon from early 1800’s.  This page is intended to give background on the Salon, what is was, and what was it like at Manet’s time. Daumier’s caricatures also tend to highlight in a current form the happenings at the Paris Salon.

Paris Salon Page

Paris of 1865

This page is very important in setting the historical and social context of what Paris was like in Paris of 1865 and the mid-to mid-late 1800s.  Important for this context is how Paris itself physically transformed under the influence of Baron Georges Haussmann under Napoleon III to modernize the city.  It is through “Haussmannization” that we know of the modern Paris of today – the wide boulevards and long avenues, gardens, and the entire visual design of the city.  Literally Paris went from a medieval to modern city and this disrupted and affected Paris and its people in many ways.  To think, that most of the medieval city was destroyed for this “transformation.”

Paris in 1865 Page

Included in this page will be images of before and after pictures of Paris – and medieval districts that did survive.  The images are important to see how Paris looked like in this era, and what was going on in the city.

I’d like to include photographs of people from this era but difficult to find any at this time.  I mainly find paintings of people in Paris society and these will have to suffice to give a flavor of people, society, and what was happening in the times.  I’d truly like to give a sense of Paris in 1865.  Perhaps slideshow, Youtube, music.

I also would like to include what Manet’s Paris might have been like.

I located an excellent YouTube video by Arthaus that puts Manet, his friends, his painting, photographs of Paris and society in the historical/social context of the city.  This is a model of what I’d truly like as part of this blog site (plus what a great narrator’s voice):

Archives

The Archives Page is set up automatically.  Here is the style of how it looks in this format:

Archives Page

RSS Feed

This was set up automatically in WordPress.  I don’t know how to eliminate it – which I’d like to.  I can only see this working if I could actually set up a custom RSS Feed.  It would be kind of cool to see an RSS feed stream across the page with current comments like: “AP France: Riot takes place in the Annual Salon over showing of Manet’s Olympia…Guards called in.”

Widgets and Layout

What’s frustrating about WordPress is that one is allotted select widgets in each theme design.  What that means is that one theme can have widgets you want, and the one you have not have those or have a few of them.  I wanted this design format because I thought it lent to my idea of a Paris newspaper rag, as well as looking quite similar in design to Salon.com which I sort of wanted to emulate.  However the layout and widgets are constrained by the theme.  I particularly wanted the widgets to show up on the right side column, but it will only put them at the bottom of a three-columned content blog area.

Olympia Widgets

The widgets I activated and created within the blog include:

Manet’s Olympia: Most important of all – the picture of Manet’s Olympia – which I can’t put in this theme’s header due to its design restrictions. I still have to format the image so you can see the whole thing.

Search

About: About the Blog and link to it above on Page Toolbar (I might eliminate this since it is in duel places but was wondering if it helped to have a blurb about it here).

Flickr: The Acceptable Nineteenth Century Nude: I utilized a Flickr widget in order to convey what the proper and acceptable nude was in comparison to Olympia.  More can be seen when click on “More Photos” which takes you to my Flickr account and collection set with these images.  Somehow though I don’t know if this conveys or generates what I want it to show – providing people a chance to critically see these images and wonder/and see for themselves what’s different than Olympia – can you see what makes them acceptable and she is not?  I feel this is a bit static here but wanted to utilize the Flickr widget.  Unfortunately, I can’t improve the layout of the images.

1865 Tag Cloud: One of my chief desires was that the tags build a visual sense and representation of the words and descriptions made of Olympia – then for the viewer to match it to the painting and see if it stimulates thoughts and interaction with the image.  I feel this is a powerful dynamic element.  I would love this to be a lot bigger.

Les Categories:  These are the categories I have set so far for the postings.  They include:

  • Caricatures
  • Courtesan and Prostitute
  • Critics
  • Friends
  • Olympia’s Degration
  • Paris Salon
  • The Black Cat

The Blog/Content Area

Okay, this is the critical area – the main area.  So far, I’ve set up three example postings to illustrate different types of postings as well as to build a sense of what the blog would look like, start a tag cloud, set up categories.

Blog Postings

The three postings are:

1. A Letter, a personal letter.

An example, and important one, of a friend’s response.

What we have of any support or personal communication regarding this event is small to say the least and Zacharie Astruc writes a brief letter in describing the events, but also making fun of the critics – Le Charivari, Le Siecle (attributed to art critics of those papers), commiserating with Manet, giving a personal touch.  Astruc was important to Olympia – said to have inspired/influenced the name Olympia as well as providing the poem placed below the painting that caused a stir as well.

2. A critic’s review.

Amedee Cantloube writes for Le Grande Journal and writes a typically scathing article about Olympia – comparing her to a gorilla.

3. A caricature.

One of Honore Daumier’s fantastic caricatures not only of the visitors to the Paris Salon, but their response to seeing Olympia at the Salon.

Most of the content will be coming from critics’ writings, but also a good amount of caricatures, and what I can find of any personal correspondence, support, etc.  I still have to think what other information could be of interest in the postings.  I was thinking even some postings would be simple one or two-liners.  I want to mix up the visuals as well – the paintings, the caricatures, images of people involved whether in painting, illustration, or possible photography, possible photographs or illustrations of locales.  However, most important is the words of the day (1865).

I also began to categorize these postings and also start building a tag library.  The tag library is a bit unorthodox because besides showing words that would help locate the postings, my greatest interest is in building a word cloud that shows all the negative words and negative reactions that Olympia instilled.  I am also bolding words that are descriptive of this.  Besides it building this “1865 Word Cloud” it shows a pattern of word responses.

Quick Overview:

  • What worked: Big one – the blog works!
  • What didn’t: WordPress Post Dating to 1865, Cannot place any image in header – Need Olympia to be central, Some images are not posting, Can’t get polls to work, Would like to include Google Maps but can’t in prescribed WordPress blogs, Want “Gallery” format but again have to have non-prescribed WordPress blog, self-hosted, need to know how to edit and program .php files, and many more…
  • What was surprisingly easy: Once I got the hang of it and it surely took some time, I loved doing the blog postings – in particular for this blog – Making Olympia.  Doing my design rationale and progress report as a blog has allowed me to not only get additional practice in WordPress and blogging, which I sorely need, but discover how wonderful a WordPress blog can be for acting as a “messy” virtual design studio for all my “bits and pieces.”  I found this quite exciting and was truly a surprise.
  • What was surprisingly hard: Locating and reviewing the content for the blog – most of it is in French of what I can find and there are just a small handful of critical works that document the responses – all of them printed works – not online.  I also found it more difficult than I imagined in crafting the types of postings I wanted.  It seemed to take up a lot of work and critical thinking – what I wanted to include, how could I convey beyond the text, or how could I convey with just text itself, etc.  In the early beginning, I found the whole posting in WordPress to be confusing, not clearly articulated, and confusing.
  • What I tried: Listed above
  • What I did: Listed above
  • Why I tried / did that: Listed above and in postings

What I am going to do next:

Well, the most important now is to solidify my content and then populating and building the posts.  This also includes the location and incorporation of images.  I have to beef up some of the pages.  I have some problem issues: how to date the posts to 1865 and other WordPress issues, not all images loading, copyright issues.  I have several ideas (in Ideas Category) that I need to address.  I would like to also make it more dynamic (incorporation of slideshow, gallery, more video) if anyway possible but that is left for additional musings and ideas that come upon me.  There are some frustrating restrictions in using a WordPress site blog with restrictions of what you can do – you only have the widgets for that theme and you have to self-host and create a custom site in order to have access to over 700+ plugins (including Google Maps) – which of course requires, money and programming skill that I don’t have. I might have to dummy those in for the presentation if I want those.

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