How to Look at the Met’s Blockbuster Manet/Degas Show

Artnet's Kate Brown and Ben Davis discuss the revelatory exhibition.

Installation view of "Manet/Degas" at the Met. Photo: Ben Davis.

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One of the biggest art events of the year is currently up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. That, dare we say, once-in-a-lifetime exhibition is “Manet/Degas.” Through more than 160 works of art, including landmark loans from dozens of institutions, it puts into dialogue two of the most famous French painters of the 19th century, Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas, born two years apart.

The show has been a blockbuster, first when it debuted at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and now in its current iteration in New York City, and has attracted a chorus of rave reviews. One of the highlights, of course, is Manet’s painting Olympia, a stunningly modern portrait that is on view for the first time on this side of the Atlantic. But there’s so much more.

Artnet’s art critic Ben Davis recently had a moment to go to the exhibition, and spoke to senior editor Kate Brown about what stood out to him at this major museum event. We also dug into some of the unexpected history behind some of the artworks he discovered through the Met show, which may actually change the way you look at Manet and Degas, together and separately.


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