Manet Madness

Hurrah. Finally A Manet Exhibition not displaying his works amongst his more famous impressionist sucessors, falsely dubbing him as their “founder”. An impressionist he was not.
To me, Manet is a man to be admired. Although from a wealthy, educated background, he knew of the Salon rules and expectations, yet he was determined not to make his ART according to these rigid standards. He was, veManet- Picnic in the Gary much, the painter of modern life, depicting modern characters in modern settings but gaining inspiration from the Renaissance masters.
This exhibition at the RA shows some of his greatest work, (although my favorite Bar At the Folie Berges is in the Courtauld collection) including the famous Breakfast in the Garden with the strikingly apparent nude female depicted in a picnic scene on the outskirts of Paris.
Manet appropriated this stare onto many of his later works, including his Olympia, in which he takes inspiration from Titian and Velazquez. The direct gaze of the nude woman, combined with the harsh contrast of her fleshy tones against the lush background re-enforce the intentional nudity. Here is where the modernity lies. It would have been interesting to perhaps see these two great works amongst the exhibition, and perhaps fewer of Manet’s experimental portraits, nevertheless it is still definitely one worth seeing.
Manet: Portraying Life opens at the Royal Academy, W1 (020 7300 8000, royalacademy.org.uk), from Saturday until April 14. Open Sun-Thurs, 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm. Admission £15 (concs available). Special Sunday lates, 6.30-10pm, March 3-April 7 (except March 31), £30.

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