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.