Friday, 1 June 2012

M/M Manet in Black at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Image Edouard Manet (French, 1832–1883) 23.1325 The Races PDP 1865–72 Crayon lithograph on chine collé. Gift of W. G. Russell Allen. Property of MFA Boston. All rights reserved.

Manet in Black
February 18October 28, 2012
Mary Stamas Gallery

This exhibition will celebrate Édouard Manet’s achievements as a graphic artist. Known as the painter of modern life and father of Impressionism, he was also a gifted printmaker and draftsman, among the most daring and impressive of the 19th century. A selection of some 50 prints and drawings from the MFA’s collection, including important recent acquisitions, will form the core of the exhibition. The majority of works will be by Manet, along with complementary prints and drawings by related artists, including Rembrandt and Degas. Appreciation of Manet’s strikingly modern use of black will unify the exhibition, as it spans a variety of subjects, techniques, and styles from throughout his career. The exhibition draws upon the MFA’s strong Manet collection, recently enhanced by the acquisition of an impression of one of his most successful early etchings, La Toilette (1861), as well as the promised gift of two etchings. The exhibition will also showcase Manet’s rarely viewed lithographs, considered to be among the finest in the history of the medium. Etchings of historical and modern subjects will also be accompanied by delicate and compelling illustrations for the poetry of Charles Cros and Stephane Mallarmé.

Curatorial Concepts

Charles Baudelaire described black as the color of the nineteenth century; it was a fundamental color of modern attire and modern art, of men’s suits and of sketches executed quickly in the street. Manet was a master in the use of black, asserting his bold and subtle imprint on a range of subjects, from exotic Spanish dancers to the horses and spectators at a thrilling Paris racetrack. He was also a dandy, a sophisticated and fashionable connoisseur of urban life dressed in a chic black coat, whose experimentations with the latest artistic and cultural currents produced extraordinary—yet seemingly effortless—results. Manet’s participation in the Etching Revival, his interest in Japanese art, his challenge to the legacy of the Old Masters, his response to controversial political events, his appreciation of the pleasures and problems of modern Paris, and his sensitive collaborations with poets are themes explored in the exhibition that will deepen understanding of Manet and, in many cases, challenge assumptions about this much admired artist.