Paul Cezanne (French, 1839–1906) pursued a pair of questions throughout most of his life: Could a painter create artworks one sensation at a time? And, if so, would pictures made this way somehow be truer to life than those made by other means?
This approach to art making was complex and set Cezanne apart within the Impressionist circle and modern art as a whole. Perhaps not surprisingly, fellow artists were among the first to recognize the value of his singular and, at the time, seemingly unsophisticated approaches to color, technique, and materiality. As such, he came to be regarded as an “artist’s artist,” and indeed several of his supporters and admirers, including Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro in the 19th century and Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso in the 20th century, referred to Cezanne as “the greatest of us all.” Today, over a hundred years after Cezanne’s last works were made, artists still revere his commitment to upholding personal truth in the act of art making.
This exhibition is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States in more than 25 years and the first exhibition on Cezanne organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in more than 70 years. Planned in coordination with Tate Modern, the ambitious project explores Cezanne’s work across media and genres with 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings, and two complete sketchbooks. This outstanding array encompasses the range of Cezanne’s signature subjects and series—little-known early allegorical paintings, Impressionist landscapes, paintings of Montagne Sainte Victoire, portraits, and bather scenes—and includes both well-known works and rarely seen compositions from public and private collections in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
This extraordinary breadth of works comes together with state-of-the-art technical analysis of the artist’s palette, compositional construction, and mark making, deepening our understanding of how Cezanne conceived and developed his famously deliberate and nonlinear process. The exhibition also illuminates the pioneering trail Cezanne set for successive generations of artists. Through these complementary perspectives—of art historians, practicing artists, and conservators—this once-in-a-generation exhibition reframes Cezanne, a giant of art history, for our own time.
Cezanne is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London.
The exhibition is curated by the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, and Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Tate Modern’s Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art.
Cezanne will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue published by the Art Institute of Chicago and distributed by Yale University Press, featuring thematic essays by the four curators as well as contributions from an international selection of artists who have been invited to write about individual artworks in the show.
Lead support for Cezanne is generously provided by John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols.
Major funding is contributed by an anonymous donor, The Marlene and Spencer Hays Foundation, the Butler Family Foundation, Richard F. and Christine F. Karger, the Shure Charitable Trust, Constance and David Coolidge, Amy and Paul Carbone, and Patricia and Ronald Taylor.
Special support is provided by Dora and John Aalbregtse, Julie and Roger Baskes, Ethel and Bill Gofen, Natasha Henner and Bala Ragothaman, Barbara and Marc Posner, Margot Levin Schiff and the Harold Schiff Foundation, and Linda and Michael Welsh.
Additional funding is provided by the Jack and Peggy Crowe Fund, the Suzanne and Wesley M. Dixon Exhibition Fund, Herbert R. and Paula Molner, and The Regenstein Foundation Fund.
Members of the Luminary Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor, Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris, Josef and Margot Lakonishok, Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy, Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel, Anne and Chris Reyes, Cari and Michael J. Sacks, and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.