Jack Bankowsky


1 Gustave Courbet (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture (Princeton University Press) I know it’s lame to award the top slot to a gilded oldie, but the arrival at the Met of this breathtaking survey, coupled with my simultaneous discovery of Chu’s 2007 study (recommended by none other than Courbet collector Jeff Koons), made an afternoon in the art-historical vault the contemporary high point of my year. I ogled The Origin of the World with eyes for La Cicciolina and glimpsed the artfulness of the Koonsian persona in the crafted posture of Courbet’s self-portrait The Desperate Man. The Most Arrogant Man in France tells the story of an artist who conspired with the incipient mass media to create an image equal to his age—and it remains indelible in our

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