He may have been a prime specimen of the artist as egotist he liked to say that he had no master but nature and his own talent but he had a point. One of the greatest of 19th century French painters, Courbet really was the phenomenon he thought himself to be. No one did more to set painting free from the airless conventions of the academy, to drag it out into the sunlight and bring it face to face with real people in real settings. The Met's exhaustive survey of his work was old fashioned in the best way rich, thorough and smart.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (2/27 5/18)