If you are only familiar with 19th century French artist Édouard Manet’s early and middle period styles you are likely to find quite a few surprises in “Manet and Modern Beauty,” a wonderfully extensive, new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that showcases his later works.
Before he died in 1883 at age 51 from complications from syphilis and rheumatism, Manet was influencing other painters as he moved from a transgressive style in the 1860s to Impressionism in the 1870s and from historical and religious subjects to modern life and what he could capture “plein air” as influenced by Berthe Morisot.
Now, get to know his late 70’s and early 80’s works plus see some earlier, important Impressionism pieces. “Manet and Modern Beauty” is the first Art Institute show to focus just on Manet in more than 50 years.
In the planning stage for more than four years, the exhibit contains more than 90 works from the late 1870s and early 1880s on loan from other institutions and private collections.
They include letters on which he painted, some pastels and watercolors he began doing as his illness took hold, and several paintings that displayed his interest in apparel, fashionably attired women and men and people at leisure.
Look for “Jeanne” (Spring), 1881, a charming painting of model/actress Jeanne Demarsy. On loan from the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, it is on several of the Art Institute’s brochures and ads.
The painting sparked the exhibit after being acquired by the Getty in 2014, and so, after the show closes in Chicago. Sept. 8, 2019, the exhibit goes to the J. Paul Getty Museum, its co-organizer.
There is a lot to see and enjoy but two other works to look for are “Autumn,” 1881/82, another season expression that uses a friend, Méry Laurent, loaned by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and the large “Boating” 1874/75 painting hung in the 1879 Salon that is loaned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Leave time to peruse the letters and relax in the “Album” room that overlooks the park on the east side of the Art institute where a tree-lined path is reminiscent of Paris.
DETAILS: “Manet and Modern Beauty” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan Avenue Entrance, 111 S. Michigan Ave, or Modern wing Entrance, 159 E. Monroe St., Chicago, through Sept. 8, 2019. For admission and hours call (312) 443-3600 and visit artic.