Manet – Portraying Life DVD

(Select Audio Visual)

Carsten Holler CoverThis outstanding documentary centres on the recent exhibition of Manet’s portraiture hosted by London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Fifty paintings of this great precursor of impressionism were assembled, many of which we are shown in considerable detail with expert assessment. Manet, the man of ideas, is analysed as much as Manet the painter, and biographical material is interspersed amid the talking heads and lingering shots almost caressing canvases. We are shown the influence of Valesquez and Spanish art more broadly, and the pomposity of the embryonic art criticism which caused Manet such suffering as he sometimes scandalised his contemporaries and reshaped the course of painting. His sitters were effectively actors in scenes, while other paintings have the immediacy of subjects caught off-guard by a camera. Dead at 51 (in 1883) his work is testament to the timeless power of enigma. And to think his father wanted him to be a lawyer…