Edouard ManetThe Waitress© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Born in Paris in 1832, Manet was very aware as an artist of the diversity of his city and the metamorphoses it was undergoing. A thoughtful and sympathetic observer, he showed the disappearance of a number of small trades, the darker aspects of the city – the poverty of the vagrants, the invalids, the sordid prostitution – or made the places they frequented the subject of his paintings: theatres, the Paris opera, cabarets, bars and cafés, etc. His work seems to respond to Baudelaire's call in the Salon de 1845
: "To the wind that will blow tomorrow, no one lends an ear; and yet the heroism of modern life surrounds us and presses against us […] The true painter will be the one who is able to wrest the epic side from contemporary life, make us see and understand, with colour or line, how great and poetic we are in our cravats and polished boots".
For this first great exhibition of Manet's work to be held in Japan, it is his view of the city and the new way of life that is highlighted. In addition to the collection from Paris, this exhibition benefits from exceptional loans from collections in Japan and from leading American and European museums, offering a view that spans the entire life and career of the artist. Finally, setting his paintings alongside those of his friends, Degas and Eva Gonzalès, and along with Béraud's more picturesque scenes, brings out the uniqueness of Manet's vision and of his art, and enables us to understand why the avant-garde artists of his time chose him as their leader.
Exhibition curatorsAkiya Takahashi, director, Mitsubishi Museum; Caroline Mathieu, chief curator, Musée d'Orsay
Tokyo, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 5 April - 31 July 2010
Exhibition organised with the Yomiuri Shimbun