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Manet: The Still Life Paintings Paperback – September 1, 2006
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The French artist Édouard Manet was delighted when a client who purchased his painting of a bunch of asparagus paid more than the asking price. So he sent a special thank-you--a tiny image of a single pale spear of the prized vegetable. These and other lushly painted still lifes of flowers, fruits, and other foodstuffs, isolated or in groups, form one of the most beguiling aspects of Manet's output from the 1860s through the early '80s. Manet: The Still-Life Paintings, the catalog for the exhibition at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, through April 22, 2001, serves as a pleasant introduction to the intimate late work of the great 19th-century realist. With 106 color reproductions, including close-up details of brushwork, the modestly scaled volume makes for a satisfying browse. The most deliciously unexpected treats are the luminous watercolors of fruit, nuts, or flowers that Manet interwove with his personal correspondence.
Earlier in Manet's career, still-life images played a supporting role in figure paintings. Author George Mauner, professor emeritus of art history at Pennsylvania State University, guides the reader to observe such details as the cherry falling in midair in Young Man w ith Cherries. This fascination with instantaneous effects would culminate 11 years later in the smoking rifles of the Mexican troops in The Execution of Emperor Maximilian. Manet, of course, was well aware of the tradition of still life as an invocation of the senses and as a reminder of the fleeting nature of sensual pleasure (and life itself). Mauner explains how this art-historical knowledge offers clues to some of the artist's more enigmatic paintings. The quote-heavy, name-dropping style of fellow essayist Henri Loyrette seems less attuned to a general reader's interests. But the book's most grievous sin is one of omission: the failure to include even the briefest biographical outline of Manet's life and work. --Cathy Curtis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Close reading isn't just for poetry. In Manet: The Still-Life Paintings, George Mauner, distinguished professor emeritus of art history at Penn State, gives close and illuminating attention to some of the best-loved works in all of modern painting, reproduced here in 133 illustrations (106 in full color). Henri Loyrette, director of Paris's Mus?e d'Orsay, contributes an essay showing Manet's place within a long tradition of still-life painters. Subject-based sections such as "The First Flowers," "Fruits and Vegetables" and "Two Festive Tables" make a large body of work accessible and thematically coherent.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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For one who admired but still kept my distance from still-life paintings, and only understood them from a distance and only "on the surface," Loyette's explanations make good sense and are invaluable to filling in the blanks in my artistic knowledge. I now feel I have a sounder intellectual basis for understanding still-life paintings generally, and for understanding Manet in particular.
But this is not all, in general the explanations of Manet's paintings open up a new avenue for understanding the era of art in which he appeared. His was an important transition period to the new trends in abstract art.
The plates are high quality classics that everyone who appreciates art have in their collection. Four stars.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT MY ART BOOK REVIEWS: It might seem as though I rate most art books very favorably. The reason for this is that I usually visit my local library before buying a book. I'll look at all (in print and out of print) of the Rembrandt (for example) books and choose my favorite one to purchase. In the case of an artist's monograph, I try to choose one or two comprehensive books for each artist. These are generally large, well illustrated hardcovers with above average reproduction quality and informative text, often by one of the leading scholars on the artist. Thus, by the time I purchase a book, I have already found it to be among the best available on the subject. This is the best book of Manet's still-lifes that I could find. My copy is a hardcover.