Manet and Modern Beauty Exhibit

Jeanne (Spring) painted in 1881

When you were a child learning about famous French painters, did you confuse Manet with Monet? I certainly did. But I came up with a memory device that helped me figure out the difference between these two awesome painters. That is, Manet has the word Man in it and Edouard Manet liked to paint people while Claude Monet was more famous for painting flowery gardens.

I am in Chicago right now visiting family and friends. While here, I decided to check out the Manet and Beauty exhibit now on at the world famous Art Institute. Was it ever spectacular!

The painting above, called Le Printemps in French, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2014 for $65 Million. Holy smoking emeralds. That’s a lot of money. But when you actually get to see this painting up close, it takes your breath away with its beauty.

Le printemps is the painting that finally got Manet accepted into the Parisian art community. Apparently Manet was admired by key Impressionist artists of that day but wasn’t accepted by the French “deciders” of that period about what constitutes a great painting. Manet didn’t do what was socially accepted in paintings of the time so his work was frequently rejected by the Paris Salon. For example, he painted a naked woman having an picnic on the grass with two fully dressed men and the critics were horrified. They rejected the inclusion of Luncheon on the Grass in their 1863 exhibit.

It’s interesting to note that iconoclasts like Manet in France and Andy Warhol in the US are the ones whose works has stood the test of time while the critics of such works fade into obscurity. I guess the lesson one can draw from this is: “To thine own self be true.”

The Art Institute Exhibition is devoted to Manet’s later works, including the last painting he did before dying in 1883 at the age of 51 from complications from syphilis. It includes portraits, flowers and fruit, among other topics. So without further commentary, here are some of the paintings you can see at this exhibition.

Besides portraits, Manet painted flowers, fruit and garden scenes. Here are some of those paintings.

The Manet and Modern Beauty Exhibition leaves Chicago soon but will be at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles beginning October 8 in case you are in the area then.

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