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Monday, March 16, 2009

Cézanne and Beyond: Beckmann

Paul Cézanne - Large Pine and Red Earth

Max Beckmann - Seascape With Agaves and Old Castle

For Max Beckmann, a founder of German expressionism, Cézanne had nothing to do with abstraction; the Frenchman was the great realist, getting to the core of what the world is all about. Where some artists saw a revolutionary flatness, Beckmann saw depth, in every sense of the word. In 1905, the 21-year-old Beckmann was already saying that he found Cézanne deeper, more dramatic, more nervous and much more tragic than van Gogh. Cézanne, said Beckmann, is able to express his deepest emotions in an onion and I can remember landscapes he has painted which are like a living drama. . . . He has found the finest and most discreet way ever to express the soul through painting. Such romantic hyperbole is actually a credible reaction to some Cézannes: to his images of skulls, as grimly soulful as anything can be, as well as to his uniquely penetrating portraiture. But it also fits a work as seemingly straightforward as his Large Pine and Red Earth. That picture has so much going on in it, it becomes an automatic metaphor for the most profound complexities of being (Blake Gopnik in W.Post).

See also the Press Room of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.





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