Painter Édouard Manet’s 1863 masterwork, Luncheon on the Grass (Dejeuner sur l'Herbe) romanticizes what I cannot: sitting on the ground. But this wasn’t the flashpoint that Manet’s contemporary critics found fault with when it was first shown at the Salon des Refusés of 1863. They thought its strokes were too rushed and sloppy—not filled with enough deliberateness. The hot mess of it all made it a turn off that couldn’t be unseen. Today, it is one of the most duped paintings in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris (its permanent home) and beyond. In fact, people started riffing on it two years after it was shown, and you probably know some of its devotees: from Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet to Jeff Koons.
In a new show at his Los Angeles gallery, Jeffrey Deitch taps into this visual landmark with his signature contemporary fireworks. The eponymously titled show, on view through May 7, brings together existing work with new commissions. A blockbuster group show like only Deitch can ever pull, the artist list includes intergenerational hits from Paul McCarthy and Cecily Brown to Tschabalala Self and Salman Toor.
One can only hope that this picnic of voices can inspires the next generation—or at least get closer to the reason why adults not only want to sit on the ground for lunch but want to see images of themselves doing it. For further evidence, please look into bespoke picnic TikTok. You might be convinced too.