An illuminating analysis of the work of Paul Cézanne, one of the most influential painters in the history of modern art, by T. J. Clark, one of the world’s most respected art historians.
For more than a century the art of Paul Cézanne was held to hold the key to modernity. His painting was a touchstone for Samuel Beckett as much as Henri Matisse. Rilke revered him deeply, as did Picasso. If we lost touch with his sense of life, they thought, we lost an essential element in our self-understanding.
If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present looks back on Cézanne from a moment – our own – when such judgments may seem to need justifying. What was it, the book asks, that held Cézanne’s viewers spellbound?
At the heart of Cézanne lies a sense of disquiet: a homelessness haunting the vividness, an anxiety underlying the appeal of colour. T. J. Clark addresses this strangeness head-on, examining the art of Pissarro, Matisse and others in relation to it. Above all, he speaks to the uncanniness and beauty of Cézanne’s achievement.
T. J. Clark is Professor Emeritus of the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (1984), Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (1999), and Heaven on Earth: Painting and the Life to Come (2018). He writes regularly for the London Review of Books.
About the artist
Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) was a French artist who played a pivotal role in the development of modern art. As a Post-Impressionist painter, he developed his own characteristic style, with exploratory brushstrokes and close study of his subjects, painting still lifes, landscapes and portraits. In 1924, Tate became the first public museum in the United Kingdom to acquire Cezanne’s paintings, and they remain an important part of the collection.