Manet Manette


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Carol Armstrong


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Manet, a founding father of modernism, is one of the towering figures of nineteenth-century art. In this absorbing book, Carol Armstrong looks closely at Manet’s works to uncover a novel and compelling view not only of the artist but also of modernity itself. As she places his art within frameworks of color, the feminine Other (the “Manette” in “Manet”), and consumerism, Armstrong greatly expands and revises our understanding of this artist as a painter of modern life.

Surveying most of Manet’s diverse output, the book addresses along the way his methods of self-presentation, his exhibition strategies, the relation of his etchings and paintings, the significance of his relationships with the model Victorine Meurent and the painter Berthe Morisot, the painterly construction of identity and gender difference, and much more. At the same time, the book considers contemporary writings by Baudelaire, Zola, the Goncourts, and others who dealt with issues relating to artistic identity and modernity, painting, the model, and femininity. Armstrong concludes that Manet’s work demonstrates consistent preoccupations with defining and contradicting his own signature style of painting and with the gendering of costume, color, and the making of his art. These preoccupations, she shows, suggest a new understanding of Manet’s oeuvre.

Carol Armstrong is Doris Stevens Professor of Women’s Studies, Professor of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University.

"Armstrong has achieved something remarkable. . . . This book has much to say about modernism—and Manet’s modernism in particular."—Aruna D’Souza, BookForum

“Just when you thought that everything has been said about the creative magnificence of Edouard Manet, a book such as Manet Manette by Carol Armstrong appears and provides a fresh approach and outlook. . . . Intelligently illustrated and rich in art-historical and critical detail. . . . Armstrong’s book is a wonderful marriage of critical literary analysis and art historical methodology. . . . [It] provides the reader of any and all methodological leanings with something different and enticing to consider. . . . Although Manet Manette will not be the last word on Manet and his ‘feminine’ counterpart, it might just be one of the most definitive.”—James Smalls, H-France Book Reviews

“Armstrong has thoroughly investigated and assimilated the vast Manet literature, but her understanding of Manet is particularly original in its conceptualization of the meaning of his work. . . . She brilliantly reads Manet’s art and the instantiation of modernism. . . . [An] intellectually intense book, stunning in its analyses and original insights. She crafts her text with remarkable conceptual and literary dexterity, interweaving and overlaying ideas with a subtlety and skill that highlight the meanings of Manet’s technique. Her pen often rivals Manet’s brush in its descriptive technique. She excels in recounting in prose the surface textures and wide spectrum of colors used by Manet. . . . Rich with ideas drawn from Marxist attitudes toward the commodity, gender theory, psychoanalysis, and literary deconstruction. . . . Beautifully produced.”—Therese Dolan, Woman’s Art Journal

"...brilliant...[a] massively stimulating and impressive study." - Adrian Lewis, The Art Book, Spring 2006

ISBN: 9780300096583
Publication Date: September 10, 2002
408 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
133 b/w + 53 color illus.
Bill Brandt | Henry Moore

Edited by Martina Droth and Paul Messier

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