Exhibition on Film: Manet - Portraying Life
Earlier this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts mounted the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning this enigmatic and, at times, controversial artist’s entire career Manet: Portraying Life brought together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Documentarian Phil Grabsky - famed for his series of films on classical composers, In Search of Beethoven, In Search of Mozart, and In Search of Haydn - was granted exclusive access to the Royal Academy to explore the exhibition with the kind of intensive scrutiny (and learned insight) most art-lovers can only dream of.
Manet’s portraiture formed around half of his artistic output. He painted his family, friends and the literary, political and artistic figures of the day, giving life not only to his subjects but also to Parisian society. The exhibition consisted of more than 50 works; including portraits of his most frequent sitter, his wife Suzanne Leenhoff, luminaries of the period; Antonin Proust, Émile Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé, along with scenes from everyday life revealing Manet’s forward-thinking, modern approach to portraiture.
The film goes behind-the-scenes during the preparation of the exhibition, and interweaves a detailed, superbly crafted biography of Manet and 19th century Paris. Host Tim Marlow and special guests look at the craft of one of the all-time great artists, the ‘father of modern art’.
"Once again the film proves that seeing an exhibition through a camera (especially an HD one) is far better than not seeing it at all." Roberta Smith, New York Times