Extended hours for major Edouard Manet show in London

Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:17pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Bold claims have been made on behalf of 19th century French painter Edouard Manet - that he invented modern art, or was the man who bridged realism and impressionism.

A major exhibition of his work, dubbed a "blockbuster" by the media for its scale and some euphoric early reviews, opens at London's Royal Academy on Saturday and seeks to underline Manet's importance which few recognized during his lifetime.

The gallery will stay open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to cope with anticipated demand, and the Academy is organizing "exclusive" Sunday evening viewings in March and April to allow visitors to see the show with smaller crowds.

Those tickets, including a drink and media guide, will cost 30 pounds ($47), double the normal rate, and the exhibition ends on April 14.

For Lawrence Nichols, co-curator of the show from the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, where it was first displayed last year, seeking to define Manet's place in the history of European art risks missing the point.

"Was he the father of modern art? Was he the first impressionist? My answer to you is he was a creative, talented, self-reliant individual," he told Reuters at a press preview of the first major show in Britain to focus on Manet's portraiture.

"Cezanne loved him, Picasso loved him. He knew who he was. I'm quite convinced that many artists will come to this show over the next 12 weeks and equally be responding to this man's talent," Nichols told Reuters.

More than 50 paintings adorn the walls of the Academy's main gallery space, showcasing Manet's taste for black, white, grey and muted blues that are in stark contrast to the bright colors of the impressionists who followed him.   Continued...

A visitor looks at "Madame Manet in the Conservatory" from 1879 by Edouard Manet in an exhibition entitled "Manet: Portraying Life" at the Royal Academy in London January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett