Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Cézanne, Landscapes And Still Lives

Saida Santana


Cézanne site/non-site, the first retrospective of the work of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) organized in Spain in the last thirty years, arrives in Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. The show, curated by museum director, Guillermo Solana, features 58 paintings from the Thyssen’s permanent collection and loans from some of the most important museums in the world.

PAUL CÉZANNE. Melting Snow, Fontainebleau, 1879-1880.

The exhibit dedicated to “the father of modern art” delves into two genres that defined the painter’s work: still lives and landscapes. Site and non-site are two terms coined in 1969 by the artist Robert Smithson, who proposed a new interpretation of Cézanne recovering the connection of the artist`s work with his Provencal background, in contrast to the interpretation of the Cubists who considered it almost an abstract play of forms and shapes. As with all the Impressionists, the dominant genre in Cézanne‘s work is the landscape, but the artist goes beyond painting outdoors to include the still life, a genre that is usually expressed inside the studio.

The French master cultivated both genres equally, and even related them to each other. It is, therefore, no coincidence that a still life displays landscape analysis, or a landscape shares some of the elements of a still life. Considered the “painter of painters”, his works were highly appreciated by other artists such as Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and Henry Matisse, who praised Cézanne as “a kind of loving God of painting” and the artist who, departing from the 19th century styles, became the precursor of Cubism and abstraction.

PAUL CÉZANNE. House in Provence, c. 1885.

Gathering the pieces for this exhibition has been a work of love. According to Solana, one of the risks for the exhibit’s success was not having enough works on display. Finally, the Museum managed to gather 49 paintings and watercolors mainly through reciprocal loans between the Thyssen and other institutions.

Many of the pieces have not been seen before in Spain, and others are great masterpieces of diverse provenance, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in Washington to private collections. Also on view, alongside the work of Cézanne, nine works by other artists, including Pissarro, Gauguin, Bernard, Derain, Braque, Dufy and Lothe.

PAUL CÉZANNE. Bathers, c. 1880.

The work of Paul Cézanne, master of form and color, misunderstood painter and father of modern art, can be appreciated until May 18, 2014 at the Thyssen Museum, in the exhibition Cézanne site/non-site, dedicated to a key figure in the painting universe of the second half of the 19th century.

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