‘Manet/Degas’, a Major Exhibition to Open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 24th

 

 

 

Installation view of Manet/Degas, on view September 24, 2023-January 7, 2024, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 24, 2023, Manet/Degas examines one of the most significant artistic dialogues in the genesis of modern art. Born only two years apart, Édouard Manet (1832–1883) and Edgar Degas (1834–1917) were friends, rivals, and, at times, antagonists whose work shaped the development of modernist painting in France. By examining the ways in which their careers intersected and presenting their work side by side, this exhibition investigates how their artistic objectives and approaches both overlapped and diverged.

Installation view of Manet/Degas, on view September 24, 2023-January 7, 2024, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

Through 160 paintings and works on paper, Manet/Degas takes a fresh look at the interactions of these two artists in the context of the family relationships, friendships, intellectual circles, and sociopolitical events that influenced their artistic and professional choices, deepening our understanding of a key moment in 19th-century French art history.

Manet, George More at the Cafe’, 1878 or 1879, Oil on canvas. In this unfinished portrait, manet depicts the Irish writer George Moore.

“Manet and Degas produced some of the most provocative and admired images in Western art,” said Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director. “Anchored by the unparalleled holdings of their work in the collections of The Met and the Musée d’Orsay, in addition to incredible loans from more than 50 other institutions and individual collectors, this exhibition offers a riveting new perspective on the storied pair of artists.”

Installation view of Manet/Degas, on view September 24, 2023-January 7, 2024, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

Highlights among the loans to the exhibition include Manet’s groundbreaking Olympia, which will travel to the United States for the first time in the work’s history, as well as Degas’s recently conserved Family Portrait (The Bellelli Family) from the Musée d’Orsay. Four drawings of Manet by Degas—two from the Musée d’Orsay and two from The Met—will be reunited with rare, related etchings. They will be displayed alongside Degas’s Monsieur and Madame Édouard Manet (Municipal Museum of Kitakyushu), a gift to the sitters that Manet later slashed, thus marking an initial point of rupture. Integral pairings of works by the two artists that showcase their treatment of similar subjects from modern life include Degas’s In a Café (The Absinthe Drinker) (Musée d’Orsay) and Manet’s Plum Brandy(National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), as well as Manet’s The Races at Longchamp (Art Institute of Chicago) and Degas’s Racehorses before the Stands (Musée d’Orsay).

The exhibition features many works formerly in Degas’s collection, including Manet’sThe Execution of Maximilian (The National Gallery, London), which was methodically reassembled by Degas after it had been cut into pieces and dispersed following Manet’s death.

Stephan Wolohojian, exhibition co-curator and the John Pope-Hennessy Curator in Charge of the Department of European Paintings, said, “While little written correspondence between Manet and Degas survives, their artistic output speaks volumes about how these major artists defined themselves with and against each other. This expansive dossier exhibition is a unique chance to assess their fascinating relationship through a dialogue between their work.”

Manet, Olympia, 1863-65, Oil on canvas

“Despite its international renown, Olympia (above painting) has spent the vast majority of its 160-year existence in just one city: Paris, where it resides in the collections of the Musée d’Orsay. Now, for the very first time, Olympia has arrived in the United States, where it will appear in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The show, “Manet/Degas,” first ran at the Musée d’Orsay earlier this year; it explores the complicated friendship between the two French painters, who met in the early 1860s”…….Smithsonian Magazine. Read the full article Here.

Ashley Dunn, exhibition co-curator and Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, added: “Works on paper are integral to their story as the two artists purportedly met in the Louvre, where Degas was working on an etching after a painting attributed to Velázquez, a work that Manet also copied. The exhibition presents an exciting opportunity to evaluate how Manet and Degas worked differently across media.”

Manet: At the Milliners, 1881, Oil on canvas.
Degas, The Millinery Shop, ca. 1879-86, Oil on canvas.

Manet/Degas will be on view from September 24, 2023 to January 7, 2024 at The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 899, 1000 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Exhibition Overview

Manet/Degasis organizedbothchronologically and thematically into thirteen sections. It begins with a look at the artists’ formative years of artistic training and copying practices, informed by their mutual respect for the work of great European artists of the past. The two men reportedly met at the Louvre, where Degas was etching in front of a portraitattributed at the time to Velázquez, a work that Manet also copied.The exhibition addresses the central importance of the annual Salon as a proving ground and public stage for both artists—one that remained vital for Manet, but that Degas ultimately abandoned—and the ways in which each artist grappled with and challenged the prevailing hierarchy of genres. The Salon of 1865 in particular marked a turning point: Manet presented his daring Olympia, while Degas’s debut history painting,Scene of War in the Middle Ages, went unnoticed.However, another work by Degas from that year, A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers, indicated a new direction for the artist.

Degas painting his sister.
Manet, painting of his father.

Portraiture was a major genre for Manet and Degas, and through a rich pictorial dialogue, they expanded its formal conventions and iconographic complexity. Several sections with portraits reveal the animated Parisian environment in which the two artists lived and worked, providing context for the relationships that influenced the two artists—including major literary figures of their day, such as Émile Zola and Edmond Duranty, and thecircle centered around the family of painter Berthe Morisot.A section dedicated to wartime sheds light on how the artists engaged with the American Civil War and its aftermath, as well as their responses to the Franco-Prussian War, during which they defendedParis as members of the National Guard.Another gallery centers on their relationships with Impressionism. While Degas played a leading role in organizing the independent, nonjuried shows that became known as the Impressionist exhibitions, Manet refused to participate; however, he went further than Degas in exploring the plein-air aesthetic associated with the movement.

Degas, The Orchestra of the Opera, ca. 1870, Oil on canvas.
Manet, The Cafe’-Concert, ca. 1879. Oil on canvas.

In their search for new subjects, both artists turned to modern Paris, representing scenes of leisure and spectacleat the ballet, theater, and horse races, as well as labor and the alienation of urban life. In works that turn tothe private sphere, the artists recast and transgressedthe threshold of the picture plane in scenes of the toilette, brothels, and bathers. The exhibition concludes by examining how the artists’ relationship extended beyondManet’s premature death in 1883. By bringing together works by Manet that Degas acquired for his own collection, the section offers a poignant illustration of the two artists’ relationship with each other, both personal and professional.

Manet, Polichinelle, 1874. Lithograph printed in seven colors on Japan paper; third state of four. This work stands apart in Manet’s oeuvre as his only experiment with color lithography and as an overt political caricature.

Credits and Related Content

Manet/Degas is co-curated by Stephan Wolohojian (John Pope-Hennessy Curator in Charge of the Department of European Paintings, The Met) and Ashley Dunn (Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Met), in collaboration with Laurence des Cars (President-Director, Musée du Louvre), Isolde Pludermacher (Chief Curator of Painting at the Musée d’Orsay), and Stéphane Guégan (Scientific Advisor to the President of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie).

The Musée d’Orsay is presenting Manet/Degas from March 28 to July 23, 2023.

Degas, A Cotton Office in New Orleans, 1873, Oil on canvas

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, it will be available for purchase from The Met Store. The catalogue is made possible by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GRoW @ Annenberg.

Additional support is provided by Anonymous, Robert M. Buxton, Elizabeth Marsteller Gordon, and Claude Wasserstein.

The Met will host a variety of exhibition-related educational and public programs, to be announced at a later date.

Manet/Degas is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris. The exhibition is made possible by Alice Cary Brown and W.L. Lyons Brown, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and Harry and Linda Fath. Additional support is provided by the Janice H. Levin Fund, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, The Sam and Janet Salz Trust, and Rosalind and Kenneth Landis. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GRoW @ Annenberg.

Additional support is provided by Anonymous, Robert M. Buxton, Elizabeth Marsteller Gordon, and Claude Wasserstein.