Painting the Gaze
Édouard Manet (1832–1883) Nana, 1877 Öl auf Leinwand, 154 x 115 cm

Press information

With Manet – Painting the Gaze, starting at the end of May 2016 on the occasion of the its reopening, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is presenting an exhibition of superlatives: With masterworks by Édouard Manet (1832-1883) it features one of the most important pioneers of modern painting, one who had revolutionized art in the 19th century like no other. The theme of the show, Manet’s gazes, presents the artist’s work from a new perspective. His paintings, attracting the crowds to the Paris Salons already in the 19th century, had raised veritable storms of protest. This was mainly due to his painterly strategy of creating an intriguing relation between the figures in the picture and the observer with a previously unknown immediacy. This manner of directly addressing the observer has continued to fascinate viewers until today. Manet’s paintings reveal how »seeing« within the public sphere of the Paris metropolis has undergone perpetual changes ever since the 1860s – a transformation that Manet and his contemporaries had pointedly dealt with in their art. By reverting to old masters, as for example to the great Spaniards Velázquez and Goya, but at the same time dealing with the topics of modern life, Manet developed the new pictorial language of his time.

Seeing and being seen also was the big issue that attracted Parisians to the Salon exhibitions. For the first time, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is showcasing pairs of paintings which Manet had selected for presentation at the Salon: The painting Nana (1877), from the collection of the Hamburger Kunsthalle, is hung side by side with Jean-Baptiste Faure as Hamlet (1877), a loan from the Museum Folkwang in Essen; also brought to an encounter are the masterpieces Le balcon (1868/69) from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and Le déjeuner (1868) from the Neue Pinakothek in Munich; and even such superb works as Lola de Valence (1862) from the Musée d’Orsay or Le philosophe (1865/67) from the Art Institute of Chicago, which Manet presented on the occasion of the World Exhibition in 1867, can be viewed in Hamburg.

With these major works from internationally renowned museums, the exhibition offers the unique chance to see the full scope of Manet’s oeuvre, from his early to his late work, an opportunity which we have not had in Germany for decades.

The patrons of Manet – Painting the Gaze are Henri Loyrette, former director of the Louvre, and Olaf Scholz, first lord mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and, since January 2015, commissioner for German-French cultural cooperation.

A comprehensive catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, featuring essays by Michael Diers, Dorothee Hansen, Joachim Kaak, Matthias Krüger, Michael Lüthy and Barbara Wittmann as well as further contributions by authors from the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Renowned artists like the sopranos Annika Sophie Ritlewski and Melanie Diener, the author Hanns-Josef Ortheil and the actress Johanna Wokalek will enliven the musical and literary programme of the show.

Curator: Prof. Dr. Hubertus Gaßner