Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

Cezanne and the Past Exhibition in Budapest

Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary

In addition to seeing the great paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, the Impressionists and Rembrandt while visiting Amsterdam early last month I also had the pleasure to see the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest before leaving Europe for home last week. One word for the Cezanne and the Past exhibit….AWESOME!

I teach art history and have done a lot of research on the great artists from the past, however this comprehensive, informative and expansive exhibition of Cezanne paintings and influences really blew me away and added a great deal to my knowledge and insights into this great artist.

“The exhibition present an overview of Paul Cézanne’s oeuvre and his approach to the past through some eighty to one hundred paintings, drawings and water colours by the artist supplemented by thirty to forty works (paintings, sculptures, gypsum copies, prints and illuminated books) by sixteenth-nineteenth-century masters.”

Most people associate Cezanne with Impressionists, however he evolved as an artist out of the great traditions of the Old Masters and was greatly influenced by artists like Poussin, Rubens, Delacroix and Michelangelo to name a few.

I was aware of how he had a profound influence on the direction of Modern art and artists like Picasso and Braque and their innovations of cubism and simplifying pictorial space, however he looked (and studied) the art styles (and masters) of the distance past for his inspiration and technical approach to painting.

According to the Museum’s web site... “Paul Cézanne was a complex master who said: “I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in the museums”. He regularly visited the museum in the small rural town of Aix-en-Provence, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, while his own collection of prints, reproductions, and gypsum copies served as constant sources of inspiration for his art. Cézanne drew on Classical Antiquity, the Renaissance, Mannerism, the Baroque and Romanticism throughout his career and our exhibition seeks to find an answer to the hows and whys of this. The exhibition Cézanne and the Past: Tradition and Creativity provides insight into the development of the master’s entire oeuvre.”

Cezanne Study of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave

He religiously copied the great masters and his sketch books are filled with his studies.  Cezanne was an intensely serious and dedicated artist who took a long time to evolve to his more simplified, impressionistic and intellectualized work. He was also an avid collector of all types of art from old masters to his purchasing art by his contemporaries like Gauguin and Manet. I particularly love his still life series, and in fact painted a forgery of this painting below during a painting class years ago. Yes it is a feeble attempt.  Click here to compare.

I think what struck me most about this exhibit is truly realizing how incredibly hard Cezanne worked all his life on his craft, his technique and stylistic vision as an artist. It didn’t just come to him easy. He was a student of art and was constantly experimenting with all kinds of techniques until he found his personal approach of simplification and breaking down external reality into cones, spheres and rectangles. That is what it takes if you want to be a great artist.

I must admit I was always a bigger fan of Van Gogh and Gauguin (the more expressionistic type of artists) but seeing the Cezanne and the Past exhibition has made me a true fan of this amazing artist who played a profound role in the direction of modern art.

Its up until February 17th in Budapest. So if you re traveling through Budapest check it out!


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This entry was posted on November 21, 2012 by in ArT, Travel and tagged , , , , .
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