Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Paris Journal: Cezanne and Paris

The Cezanne and Paris show at the Musee du Luxembourg is dramatic and simple in many ways. Cezanne was a good friend of Zola’s and was urged to come to Paris by the writer. The show documents the potent influence of Zola’s realism on the nascent imagination of a great master whose work would eventually go beyond realism and even impressionism. When we speak of post-impressionism we can't but think of Cezanne so it’s dramatic to see paintings like  Les Toits de Paris” (1881-2) with a classic and almost iconic view of the Paris skyline counterposed to a painting  like “L’Eternel Feminin ou Le Veau d’or” (1877) with its break from classic perspective. Hitchcock made cameo appearances in his films and here you can see Cezanne’s bald pate amongst the gallery gazing on the lusty ideal of femininity that the artist portrays. Naturally since it’s a Cezanne show there are plenty of apples and portraits too-- those of  his wife and his famed dealer Vollard, for example. The antimonies of figuration and abstraction are also juxtaposed with those of urbanism and nature. The artistic world of Paris obviously had its allure for Cezanne, but the conclusion one must make on viewing a show explicitly centered on Cezanne’s relation to Paris was that the artist found his real home artistically and spiritually in the rural world of the provinces, in particular Provence.

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