Manet, modernity, beauty

5 Aug

Manet - Jeanne.jpgCreditThe J. Paul Getty Museum 

Great article on Chicago Manet exhibit, arguing for beauty and taking a real swipe at the anti-beauty of the modern, modernity, Modernism, its insufferable arrogance, and the way it’s made guilt about liking the beautiful into a central aesthetic-spiritual tenet of our civilization:

“Or is it because, poor modern boy that I am, I have been trained by more than a century of artists and writers to be suspicious of beauty — that ruse, that luxury, that feminine thing? The received history of modern Western painting, over which Manet looms like our great bourgeois Allfather, can feel like a succession of attacks on beauty by generations of arrogant men, each more certain than the last that their art would at last redeem an ugly society. But Manet knew that there is as much rebellion and insight in a dress, a bouquet or even a pile of strawberries if he could see past their surfaces to the richness within. [my emphasis] That is another path to modernity, grounded in what his dear friend Baudelaire, in “The Painting of Modern Life,” called “beauty, fashion and happiness.”

Manet flowers in a crystal vase



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