A reappraisal of Paul Cézanne’s achievement in the genre of still life
“[Cézanne] should especially be apprehended in [his] still lifes… it is in this genre that he best said what he had to say.”— Émile Bernard, 1904-05
“Allows one to scrutinize the artist’s still lifes in illuminating isolation from the work of his peers.”—Mary Tompkins Lewis, The Wall Street Journal
“A beautiful tome.”—Judith Dobrzynski, Real Clear Arts
“Rigorous and thoughtful.”—Michael Pepi, The New Criterion
“Manages to explore the full gamut of Cézanne’s adventures with still life.”—Ann Landi, ARTNews
Edited by Benedict Leca. With a foreword by Philippe Cézanne. Contributions by Benedict Leca, Denis Coutagne, Paul Smith, Richard Shiff, and Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer
This ground-breaking volume examines Paul Cézanne’s paintings within the context of his artistic development and professional self-fashioning, and probes the shifting scientific and critical discourses that shaped both his practice and the reception of his pictures.
A prolific artist who synthesised formal problems through a close study of objects, Cézanne’s lifelong engagement with still-life painting yielded what is arguably the single most innovative body of work in the genre of any artist in the Western canon. In their often radical colouring and skewed perspective—and abetted by his highly demonstrative paint application—Cézanne’s still lifes unmoored objects and their meanings from conventional representation, effectively recasting the physical and perceptual relations between people and things. Apples, skulls, and crockery now evoked more than merely abundance, vanity, or notions of the rustic, participating instead in a poetics of suggestiveness and allusion. Ultimately, Cézanne set still-life painting on a new course, one that completely altered its traditionally low position in the academic hierarchy of French painting and prefigured the later essays of masters from Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol.
Treating over 20 of Cézanne’s key still lifes borrowed from European and American museums and private collections, and featuring four essays by acclaimed Cézanne specialists in addition to a foreword by Philippe Cézanne, great-grandson of the artist, this is a major contribution to our understanding of Cézanne’s art.
Benedict Leca is the executive director, Redwood Library and Athenaeum, and was the director of Curatorial Affairs at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and curator of European Painting, Sculpture, and Drawings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, 2007-2012. A specialist in the art and culture of 18th- and 19th-century France, he is the editor and co-author of Monet in Giverny (2012) and the editor and co-author of Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman (2010).
Denis Coutagne is Heritage Chief Curator (ret.), former Director of the Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, and President of the Société Paul Cézanne.
Paul Smith is professor in History of Art at the University of Warwick.
Richard Shiff is Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer is professor and chair, Department of Art History, University of Delaware.
Table of Contents
- Director’s foreword by Louise Dompierre
- Acknowledgments by Benedict Leca
- Foreword by Philippe Cézanne
- Introduction by Benedict Leca with Denis Coutagne
- “The Painter of Apples”: Cézanne, Still Life, and Self-Fashioning by Benedict Leca
- Cézanne’s Color Lab: Not-So-Still Life by Paul Smith
- Morality, Materiality, Apples by Richard Shiff
- Cézanne in the Studio by Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer
- Exhibition checklist
- Selected bibliography
- Photography credits