Both Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse acknowledge Cezanne: “He was the father of us all”. Take a walk through a current exhibition of portraits painted by Cezanne with the curator, John Elderfield and English art critic Alistair Sooke – and see what they mean.
Paul Cezanne (unlike almost all the other French Impressionists) was a man of independent means – he inherited sufficient money from his banker father to be able to paint what he liked – and he devoted his life to his work. He didn’t take commissions to paint portraits because, as John Elderfield says, Paul was too brusquely honest to flatter a sitter; he was concerned with truth, honesty, authenticity.
The exhibition is currently running at the National Portrait Gallery, London – until 11th February – but if you can’t get to it, there is a handy live tie-in with the exhibition on cinema, opening in UK cinemas, this Tuesday, 23rd January.
I went to see a similar exhibition/film (on Matisse’s cut-outs) and it was like being in a comfortable armchair, wheeled smoothly around the show, and with no one standing in your way. (Whereas, when you go to see a blockbuster show, there are inevitably a roomful of other strangers keen on looking up close to the paintwork – whom you have to wait and dodge around, all the time harried by the awareness that there’s someone else waiting for you to move away so that they can get their turn at the picture).
Here is the trailer for the Cezanne exhibition film: