Joseph Nechvatal reviews Henri Fantin-Latour: À fleur de peau at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, on view through February 12, 2017.
Nechvatal writes: “Henri Fantin-Latour’s 19th-century Realist paintings … remind us that the real must be processed through the flesh and the blood of our eyes. In his early, clear-eyed (yet lovely) paintings that celebrate the luxury of the senses, it is certainly the case that Fantin-Latour’s subject was the reality of the observable world itself. So, in wake of the post-factual politics that brought so much ugliness to the fore with the foul and despicable Donald Trump, it was something of a tonic to peruse Fantin-Latour’s early, unambiguous paintings of substantial, precise, and graspable realities. The mysterious attraction I found in this enlightening retrospective … involved taking seriously what one can easily enjoy.”