Portraits by Cézanne at the Musée d'Orsay...

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08/28/17 - “ Observing the model and being able to depict it can, sometimes, be a slow process for an artist", said Cézanne in the final years of his life.
All along his career he regularly painted portraits of friends and strangers and, from time to time, some renown figures in the art world.  He also did several self-portraits. His deep interest in portraits was studied in many opportunities but the sense in them was never truly figured out, something that did happen with his still lives, his bathers and his landscapes, all examples of his approach to the concept “harmony with Nature”.

The previous paragraphs belong to the texts that welcome us to the exhibition "Portraits by Cézanne" at the Musée d' Orsay, in Paris. This large exhibition, presented in chronological order, proves, in an extraordinary way, the originality of his work. The pieces were lent mainly by London's and Washington's National Galleries, but there are also works belonging to private collections (it was forbidden to photograph these ones). 
In his early works, from mid 1800, he made portraits of his closer family. With a darker palette and a fuller brush, the paintings show the influence of the trends of the time.
L’Événement (portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, father of the artist), by Paul Cézanne (1866)
Technique: oil on canvas
Portrait of Marie Cézanne (the artist's sister), by Paul Cézanne (1866 -1867)
Years later we start seeing the artist's true hand and he paints Mme Cézanne regularly, embroidering or simply sitting. Even if between 1870 and 1880 the impressionists used a brilliant palette, Cézanne still cherishes his independence, using his very own colors and creating a certain magnetism towards the artworks. The truth is that these paintings went beyond Impressionism, merely suggesting space to give the sitting figures a powerful appearance. 
Madame Cézanne con pollera a rayasde Paul Cézanne (1877) 
Técnica: óleo sobre tela
Madame Cézanne cousantby Paul Cézanne (1877)
Technique: oil on canvas
Retrato del artistaby Paul Cézanne (circa 1875)
Technique: oil on canvas
Retrato del artista con fondo rosa, by Paul Cézanne (1875)
Technique: oil on canvas
In the many artworks belonging to the room of 1890, we see a great difference: there's a certain psychological tension in the figures, which are still monumental but with a rather geometrical approach in shapes. In spite of repeating a same woman in a same pose (his wife), we see Cézanne's intention to study the forms that will lead to Modern Art.
Retrato de Madame Cézanne en rojoby Paul Cézanne (1888-1890)
Technique: oil on canvas
Madame Cézanne au fauteuil jauneby Paul Cézanne (1888-1890)
Technique: oil on canvas
Madame Cézanne au fauteuil jauneby Paul Cézanne (1888-1890)
Technique: oil on canvas
Finally Cezánne goes out to the street to portray the people of his neighborhood, like the coffee lady.   Is in this period that he creates one of his most significant portraits: "The card players", for which the royal family of Qatar paid 250 million dollars in 2012.
La Femme á la cafetiérede Paul Cézanne (1895 aprox.)
Técnica: óleo sobre tela
El jugador de cartas (study)by Paul Cézanne (circa 1890 – 1892)
Technique: oil on canvas
During his final years he only does outdoor portraits. We see anonymous persons, although it is believed that they were neighbors to his atelier in beautiful Provence, which Cézanne loved deeply. The brush strokes are more vague, to the point that it's hard to recognize the facial features.
The exhibition traces a line between the very productive and complex development of an artist that demonstrated, like no other, an independence and originality that made him the Father of Modern Painting.

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Liliana Wrobel


Production & Translation

Carla Mitrani

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