Book Review │ Manet and Modern Beauty

The following volume corresponds to exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago which runs from May 26 to September 8, 2019 and the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center which runs from October 8, 2019, to January 12, 2020.


Unlike most Manet exhibitions, the curators of Manet and Modern Beauty chose to focus their show on a less popular period within Manet’s life: his later years. This is a period for the artist that is largely overlooked because it is such a shift from what Manet is so well-known for. The shift in his work is often attributed to his decline in health and his growing interest in fashion and women painters, namely Berthe Morisot, a woman created with being a source of inspiration for this period of his work.

Weaving together gorgeous reproductions of Manet’s works with essays and correspondence from the artist during this period in his life, Allan, Beeny, and Groom create an in-depth view of Manet and his later works. While the writing is academic in tone, the inclusion of the personal correspondence really illuminates where the artist was during this part of his life and how it could relate to why there is such a shift in his work from previous paintings.

As viewers, we get to see the lush social world that Manet found himself in during the 1870’s and 1880’s and in many ways, we can also uncover his commentary on this world that he lived in during his later years. With nearly 300 beautiful reproductions, Manet and Modern Beauty stands as a gorgeous literacy and artistic work that brings to life the later years of Eugène Manet.

Manet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years edited by Scott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom will be released on June 25, 2019 from Getty Publishing with ISBN 9781606066041. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was shared in exchange for a review.

A Review of War-Revolution-Weimar: On Ida Katherine Rigby’s Exhibition and Catalog Essays

weimarBeginning with Max Pechstein’s cover illustration for the Novembergruppe’s book, Rigby sets a clear tone for her catalog. Portrayed is an able bodied man, shirtless and with flames erupting from his chest. Above his head reads “AN ALLE KUNSTLER” which when translated means “to all artists” and served as a message to the German Expressionists. From the fiery introduction, Rigby transitions smoothly into the War Period where she focuses on the attitudes that created art.

The War Period

Rigby states how many German soldiers emerged from World War I as vehement opponents to war. With brief yet concise explanations, Rigby juxtaposes the historical influences of the period along with dark depictions of a post-war culture, shedding further light on the mind state of artists who were working during this period. Otto Dix and Christian Rohlfs are among the largest contributors to this section.

Political Posters

What is the most interesting section of this catalog is the fourth segment which covers political posters during the Revolution. The now socialist government moved to allign itself with the Expressionists. They had hoped that this group of artists would ignite in the workers the same spirit that had caused them to revolt in the first place. What was inevitably created were posters with blatant political satire that were rich in harsh imagery and color, unlike what the infamous Daumier had been doing during the French Revolution two hundred years before.

The Weimar Art Period

The Weimar Republic refers to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany. The culture of this government lasted from 1919 to 1933 when Hitler and the Nazis party rose to power. It is during this period that the aforementioned political posters would flourish, the beginning to Bauhaus would be introduced to the world and Germany would be viewed as an intellectual center. Otto Dix is most assocaited with this period as he was very prolific during these years. Rigby includes many of his poster throughout th book and especially in conjunction with the Weimar Period.

Overall, Rigby compiled a clear exhibition and accompanying catalog. It is both intriguing and concise at the same time which allows for the reader to take time while studying the images that she has chosen to portray along with her essays. Its a different look at Germany, as the Weimar period is not often covered in-depth as it is here.

War-Revolution-Weimar by Ida Katherine Rigby is available through the Sa Diego State University Press with ISBN 0916304620.

Victorian New Jersey – Book Review

keanWhen you think of New Jersey today it is easy for your mind to drift to Snooki, Italian-Americans, lots of hair spray, fist pumping and any other stereotype that New Jersey has been blasted with over the course of the past few years with programing like The Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. However, what has been forgotten and pushed aside is that New Jersey is rich in history that pre-dates the spray tans and hair-poofs.

New Jersey and its History

New Jersey is full of stories, legends and history that go back to the early days of the colonization of America. We are a state that has seen a lot of big changes and life happen here. New Jersey has seen Revolutionary war battles, visits from presidents, natural disasters, grand estates, big inventions and famous people.

Frank J. Esposito and Donald Lokuta explore the early days of New Jersey, specifically the Victorian time period, in their book Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection. They open their catalog with the biggest part of New Jersey lifestyle– the Jersey shore. Here, they share Thorn’s photographs of Asbury Park and Cape May, the beaches that dominated before Seaside Heights became the huge attraction.

From there, they break the photographs into other categories that include:

  • Picturesque Plainfield
  • Churches and Schools
  • Neighboring Communities
  • The Fairgrounds
  • Popular Attractions
  • Estates, Hotels and Parks

Guillermo Thorn

Esposito and Lokutachoice of focusing on Thorn for this collection is most interesting. Thorn was born in 1837, before the invention of photography. He grew up in the time where photography was new, fascinating and quickly becoming a popular art form. Thorn is best known for his sentimental personality and deep appreciation for the past, which are evident in many of his photographs.

Overall, Esposito and Lokuta’s Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection is an interesting and well-researched catalog that is an asset to those who appreciate and wish to learn more about New Jersey’s rich and vibrant past.

The exhibition originally ran at the Kean University gallery in Union, New Jersey from fall to spring in 2005.

Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection by Frank J. Esposito and Donald Lokuta was originally published by Kean University in 2005. It is available for purchase through the Kean University bookstore with ISBN 0-9765907.