Cézanne exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
‘Fresh approach’ to works of French master
The curators say this is a new approach to looking at Cézanne, who was born in Aix-en-Provence on January 19, 1839, and died there on October 22, 1906. While “Cézanne and the Past: Tradition and Creativity” at the Museum of Fine Arts in 2012-2013 focused on the meeting points between the great predecessors (for example, Michelangelo, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and Nicolas Poussin) and Cézanne’s works, the current exhibition examines the constructive artistic trends that emerged in the first half of the 20th century.
Cézanne is considered to be one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists, whose works and ideas were influential in the aesthetic development of many 20th-century artists and art movements, especially Cubism. His art, misunderstood and discredited by the public during most of his life, grew out of Impressionism and eventually challenged all the conventional values of painting in the 19th century, due to his insistence on personal expression and on the integrity of the painting itself, regardless of subject matter.
This approach has been attracting the attention of contemporary fine artists, writers, poets, philosophers and art historians ever since his first Parisian exhibition of 1895 and the monography exhibition organised after his death at the Parisian Autumn Salon of 1907.
The Museum of Fine Arts says its present exhibition seeks to establish the extent of and reasons for the relevance of Cézanne and the art historical relations associated with him to the present time. For Cézanne’s œuvre is one of the pillars of modern art. His life’s work in the areas of composition, visual effect and capturing reality served as the starting point for Avant-garde strivings after 1885.
According to the curators, the exhibition, which is emphatically not aimed at documenting the history of the master’s impact, rather examines the multifaceted interrelations between the great master of Aix-en-Provemce and Russian, Dutch, German and Hungarian Constructive/Concrete artistic trends manifest in the context of form, composition, structure and colour.
Besides works by Cézanne, visitors can see those by masters of De Stijl (Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Vilmos Huszár), Russian Avant-garde artists (Kazimir Malevich, Aleksander Rodchenko, Antoine Pevsner and Mikhail Larionov) and artists who participated in the Bauhaus (Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, László Moholy-Nagy and Sándor Bortnyik).
The exhibition displays some 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolours and prints from the museum’s own holdings, as well as loans by the world’s prominent museums and private collections.
The exhibited works are organised around several topics. Visitors can first learn about the role Cézanne’s native town of Aix-en-Provence played in his art, and then about his relationship with the Impressionists and about his circle of friends (Zola, Pissarro, Monet, Guillaumin and Renoir).
The section titled “The Ways Have Parted” explores the various interpretations of Cézanne’s œuvre after the master’s death, including landscape interpretations as well as the connection between Cubism (Picasso, Léger and Braque) and Cézanne, the development and trends of abstraction, as well as the links between Cézanne’s art and the Russian Avant-garde.
The works displayed alongside each other – in pairs and sequences – highlight the visual and intellectual junctures between works by Cézanne and those by Mondrian, Klee, Feininger, Bortnyik, Huszár, Larionov, Malevich and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart.
Postscript – Breaking with the previous spelling, the painter’s name is used without an accent both in the exhibition and in the catalogue. Cézanne was born in Provence, and in the Provençal language the letter “e” without an accent is pronounced in the same way as the one with an accent in French.
The artist himself used his name without an accent in his letters and when signing his works. The version with an accent – Cézanne – was only used by his wife, Hortense Fiquet, and his son, Paul Cézanne Jr. from the 1890s, most likely to leave no doubt as to the pronunciation of the name for Parisians and others not coming from Provence.
The Budapest Times has stuck with the accent. Readers can go either way, as they wish.
“Cézanne to Malevich. Arcadia to Abstraction”
Until February 13, 2022
Museum of Fine Arts Budapest
Address: 1146 Budapest, Dózsa György út 41
Phone: +36-1 469-7100