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Dance Insider & Arts Voyager editor and publisher Paul Ben-Itzak, who has also written for Reuters, the New York Times, and many others and also publishes the Art Investment News, is looking for work in France, where he lived and worked for 10 years. He is ready to include his magazines in any deal. Interested parties can e-mail Paul.

Arts Voyager Gallery, 2-7: Back to the Future
Cezanne in Budapest: Even the 'father of us all' had parents

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Self-portrait," 1875. Oil on canvas, 64 x 53 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, inv. no. RF 1947-29. RP 182. Supporting a wife and a little boy, at 36 still subsisting on a meager allowance from his retired banker father, Cézanne saved money by using himself as his model. But he was more interested in developing a technique than simply reproducing himself. For the artists classified as "Impressionists," wrote Andre Malraux (in "The Psychology of Art," Bollingen / Pantheon / Skira, 1950), "(t)he dramatic 'fixation' of one element of the visible -- of light with Monet, movement with Degas, volume with Cézanne -- was a means, not an end; but its end was not merely an individualization of the world; their art did not aim at intensifying the real, but at disintegrating it."

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

It's easy to be cynical about the trend by museums over the past decade to exhibit major figures in juxtaposition with other artists (not always peers). To me it's often seemed like a marketing ploy, as if curators don't credit the reputations of Pissarro, Picasso, Manet, Monet, and Cézanne as sufficient to draw visitors, and need to re-brand them in a new context. But Cézanne and the Past -- Tradition and Creativity, an assemblage of 100 works by the master juxtaposed with work by his antecedents (from Le Nain to Poussin up to Manet and Courbet), on view at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts through February 17, has opened my eyes to the value of context as illumination. (And of collaborative curating; over 40 museums from around the world loaned work for this show.) Often viewed as a rebel in his time -- even among the (derisively labeled) Impressionists, Cézanne was the most ridiculed among the ridiculed by the public and critics (save his childhood friend Zola and a few others) -- so fervently was he claimed by his artistic descendants (Picasso called him 'the father of his all,' and the Nabi Maurice Denis painted a "Tribute to Cézanne" portraying him surrounded by his acolytes), it's easy to forget that, tortured inventor, iconoclast, and outcast of the hide-bound government-sponsored salons that he was, Cézanne was no orphan, but saw himself as preserving the continuum of art, even regularly re-visiting the master works of the staid local museum when he regularly fled the Bohemian turmoil of Paris for the bucolic if bourgeoisie calm of his native Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne and the Past -- Tradition and Creativity helps us understand that the artists with staying power -- even when proclaimed the father of modern art -- don't spring from whole cloth (the surrealist Duchamp's early canvasses were pure late Impressionism), and thus furthers not only our understanding and appreciation of one artist, but of art history. As such it pursues the most laudable of curator ambitions, to both educate and thrill, enlighten and enthrall, as demonstrated by the examples shared here (with additional comment and context in the captions).

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine," 1886-87. Oil on canvas, 59.6 x 72.3 cm. The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., inv. no. 0285. RP 598. If Paris provided him -- notwithstanding his cantankerousness -- with collegial support, or at least the feeling that he was not alone in attempting to extend his art -- it was to his native Aix that Cézanne regularly returned, ever inspired by the bucolic surroundings in which he, Emile Zola, and Baptism Baille had often escaped as teenagers.

Nicolas Poussin (Les Andelys, Normandy, 1594 x 1665, Rome), "The Arcadian Shepherds (Et in Arcadia Ego)," 1637-38. Oil on canvas, 87 x 120 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. 7300. Blunt 120, Thuillier-2 137. From Poussin, the exhibition posits, Cézanne learned about how forms and clarity of colors should be accorded equal rank in every point of a picture. But from this painter who worked two centuries before him, Cézanne may also have got... modernism. "Such of his paintings which have been cleaned," writes Malraux in "The Psychology of Art," (ibid) "especially the 'Bacchanalia' in the London National Gallery, show how modern this art which aspired to be traditionalist, can look, and why there once was talk of his 'astounding brio.'"

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "The Card Players," c. 1890-92. Oil on canvas, 65.4 x 81.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 61.101.1. RP 707.

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "The Card Players," c. 1892-96. Oil on canvas, 47 x 56.5 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Camondo Bequest, 1911, inv. no. RF 1969. RP 714. The Budapest exhibition posits that Cézanne's several 'Card Players' studies were influenced by the Le Nain Brothers' "The Card Players" (c. 1635, below), which he grew up seeing on his frequent visits to the municipal museum of Aix (now the Granet museum).

Le Nain Brothers (Laon, 1607-77, Paris), "The Card Players," c. 1635. Oil on canvas, 63.3 x 76 cm. Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, inv. no. 855.1.1.

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "The Buffet," 1877-79. Oil on canvas, 65.5 x 81 cm. Szépm vészeti Muzeum, Budapest, inv. no. 371. B.. With Cézanne, a still life was never still, but a moving, constantly evolving experiment in volume, density, and color.

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "The Basket of Apples," c. 1893. Oil on canvas, 65 x 80 cm. The Art Institute, Chicago, inv. no. 1926.252. RP 800.

Edouard Manet (Paris, 1832- Paris, 1883) "Picnic in a Wood," n. d.. Black chalk, partly reinforced with pen and black ink, with green, blue,brown and black watercolor on paper, 478 x 317 mm. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology University of Oxford, Oxford, inv. no. WA1980.83. Mathey 35 B. Though Manet may have provided an example in artistic daring to Cézanne and the other Impressionists, relations between the two men were contentious. Cézanne -- who when in Paris liked to play the provincial bumpkin, dressed roughly where Manet adorned himself impeccably, right up to the top hat -- once showed up at Manet's weekly gatherings on the rue Batignolles and announced to the older artist, "I won't shake your hand because I've not bathed for a week!" And Manet refused to participate in the first independent salon organized by Degas because, he said, "I shall never commit myself to appearing with M. Cezanne!," who he described as nothing more than "a mason who paints with his trowel." (Cited by Henri Perruchot in "La Vie de Cézanne," Hachette, 1958, published in English as "Cezanne," World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, copyright Perpetua Limited, 1961.)

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Female Nude" (Leda II?), 1885-87. Oil on canvas, 44 x 62 cm. Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, inv. no. G 1143. RP 590.

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence). "Bathers Outside a Tent," 1883-85 (possibly earlier). Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 81 cm Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, inv. no. 2550. RP 553.

Paul Cézanne, (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Bathers," 1899-1904. Oil on canvas, 51.3 x 61.7 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Amy McCormick Memorial Collection, Chicago, inv. no. 1942.457. RP 859. Critiquing an earlier "Bathers" tableau included in the third Independent Impressionist exhibition mounted in April 1878 at 6, rue Le Peletier, the critic Georges Riviere wrote in "L'Impressioniste," a journal launched expressly for the exhibition at Renoir's suggestion, that Cézanne, "the artist who has been most subjected to attack and maltreatment during the last fifteen years by both press and public," "belongs to the race of giants. Since he cannot be compard with anyone else, people find it eaiser to deny him his due. Yet he has his admired counterparts in the history of painting; and if the present does not render him justice, the future will class him with his peers, among the demi-gods of art." (Cited by Henri Perruchot in "La Vie de Cézanne," Hachette, 1958, published in English as "Cezanne," World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, copyright Perpetua Limited, 1961.)

Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Harlequin," 1888-1890. Oil on canvas, 100 x 65 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, inv. no. 1985.64.7. RP 620. The striking way Picasso's later rendering of a similar subject echoes the master's illustrates why the former called the latter "the father of us all."

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