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Courbet made so many paintings that, unless you are fortunate enough to own Robert Fernier's catalogue raisonne, each new monograph or exhibition catalog is likely to present some pictures that you have not seen before. That was certainly my experience with this volume, which is the catalog of the Courbet exhibition mounted at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt from Oct. 2010 to Jan. 2011, and many of the paintings are from public or private German collections. The reproductions are splendid, about 90 of them, almost all full-page, excellently printed and accompanied by facing-page commentaries. These, almost all by the volume's editor, Klaus Herding, who also arranged and curated the exhibition, are sometimes disappointing in their brevity, and when one sees 6 lines of commentary followed by 6 inches of empty space, one feels a bit cheated. This is true also of the 13 essays that precede the catalog, most of which (at an average of 6 pages, including illustrations) are simply too short to amount to anything really substantial--all the more frustrating in that the authors make up something like the dean's list of current Courbet scholars (Herding, Hofmann, Haddad, Le Men, Rubin, Nochlin et. al.).
In calling the exhibition and catalog a "dream," Prof. Herding is referring to a view of Courbet that he has been advancing for some time: "The 'Other' Courbet," as he calls him in, and titles, his introductory essay, not the socially committed realist we have long been acquainted with, but a more introspective, romantic and subjective painter equally interested in and open to the dreamy and quasi-somnambulistic side of life.Read more ›
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