The Artist of Artists – Chicago Magazine

Jhe work of the French painter Paul Cézanne has long fascinated his fellow artists. It’s a key part of a new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that showcases Cézanne as a bridge between the Impressionists and future generations of painters like Picasso and Matisse, who were among the former owners of many of the works on display.

The first major Cézanne retrospective at the museum in more than 70 years and anywhere in the United States for 25 years, the exhibition is curated by Gloria Groom, a specialist in 19th-century European painting, and Caitlin Haskell, who focuses on art modern and contemporary. . Interdepartmental collaboration is unusual for the Art Institute. “But we really feel he doesn’t fit comfortably into the Impressionist circle, and he’s so important to the 20th and 21st centuries,” Groom says. “If there is a painter who helps you understand what modernism is in the 19th and 20th centuries, Cézanne can do it,” adds Haskell.

We asked curators to talk about four of their favorites from the 125-piece show, which opens May 15 and ends September 5.

Photography: J. Paul Getty Museum

1. The Eternal Feminine

Around 1877

Gloria married
Gloria married

Young married man: “At that time he had already had his second exhibition with the Impressionists. You see these directional strokes he uses in his landscapes, but now he applies them to a painting that is just his imagination. The subject is so ambiguous and strange, but you can see that it nods to plein air painting, the nude tradition and Baroque painting. He combines all of that into this rather small web, and it’s already showing the seeds of where he’s moving.

'Still Life with Fruit Platter' by Paul Cézanne
Photography: Museum of Modern Art

2. Still life with fruit platter

1879–80

Caitlin Haskell
Caitlin Haskell

Haskel: “There is this very insistent materiality of the brushstroke. If earlier painters were interested in achieving a smooth, even, finished surface, Cézanne definitely does not. The wallpaper patterns jump forward and appear to be in the same plane as the fruit on the table. The first owner of this painting was Paul Gauguin, and in the collection of the Art Institute we have a painting by Gauguin where he includes the painting by Cézanne in the background. So you really get an idea of ​​the artistic lineages unfolding before your eyes.

Photography: Museum of Modern Art

3. Still life with a ginger jar and eggplants

1893–94

Gloria married
Gloria married

Young married man: “We are further into his career, where he uses this patterned tablecloth as something almost topographical – it has its own dynamism. We have six of these blue tablecloth paintings in the exhibition. He leaves his painting and what “he feels leading to the next moves. Nothing is really balanced, and yet there is this feeling of complete control. It takes a slow search, because when you start looking at how the background of that table and the paper paintings are moving forward and everything that happens there is fascinating – and that is exactly what fascinated artists of that time and later too.

'Bathers (The Great Bathers)' by Paul Cezanne
Photography: The National Gallery, London

4. Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)

Around 1894-1905

Caitlin Haskell
Caitlin Haskell

Haskel: “The highlight of the exhibition will be this version of The Great Bathers from the National Gallery in London. This is one of the paintings we know Fauvist, Cubist, artists interested in Expressionism saw in the 1907 Cézanne Memorial Exhibition in Paris. This moment is a revelation, because Cézanne worked in the south of France, people did not see him evolve. And it’s as if all of a sudden you have a complete work presented. It’s just this incredible aha moment that leads to several different styles of avant-garde painting.

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