Author: Denis Coutagne
Translated from French by Daniel Wheeler
ISBN 2 84323 651 7
Publisher: Assouline Publishing
The following review was contributed by: Lily Azerad-Goldman &CLICK TO VIEW Lily Azerad-Goldman's Reviews
CEZANNE in Provence was fashioned in two parts. The first half is part
biography, part travelogue, while the second half contains beautiful
reproductions of Cézanne’s paintings.
These paintings are part of a traveling exhibition traveling to Essen, Germany –
Guggenheim Museum in New York form February 10th to May 8th, 2005 – Musee des
Beaux-Arts de Montreal from Sept. 22nd, 2005 to January 8th, 2006 – Marseilles
in 2006 – Washington, Jan 26th, 2006 to May 7th, 2006 and Aix-en-Provence from
June 9th, 2006 to Sept. 17th, 2006
Denis Coutagne has been the director of the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence
since 1980. It is no wonder that he describes Cézanne’s paintings with such
authority. Monsieur Coutagne gives us a glimpse in the life of a lonely artist
who thought that art was priesthood. Both Monsieur Coutagne and Cézanne must
have spent a great deal of their time in the area of Aix-en-Provence being
imbued by its idyllic scenery.
Each painting is described lyrically with a profound knowledge of Art History.
Even if you find that Monsieur Coutagnes descriptions are a bit heavy at times,
it helps to understand Cézanne’s creative process. Nature for Cézanne “consists
more of depth than of surface, whence the need to include in our vibrations of
light, represented with reds and yellows, enough shades of blue to create a
sense of air.” His landscapes of Jas de Bouffan and Mont St. Victoire are imbued
with a “light that does not exist” as he states enigmatically. “By this the
artist meant light as a flux, bathing things and revealing their silhouettes and
forms. Cézanne’s oeuvre, therefore, consists in giving visible things their
invisibility, in allowing the passage of one order into the other.”
Cézanne strove to fashion something other than reality. In his painting “red
apples” he experiments with flat depth, steep views, tilting the horizontal
plane of a tabletop, etc. thereby creating an image that seems askew but in fact
is very pleasing to the eye and conforms to the canon of traditional painting.
Monsieur Coutagne goes on dissecting each painting with alacrity
In his lifetime, Cézanne was rejected as a painter by the aristocracy of
Aix-en-Provence, leaving him to become a lonely soul who became obsessed with
the beauty around him.
Monsieur Coutagne depicts this countryside in lyrical terms. Whether you are a
painter or just a tourist, you will want to go and wander in the steps of
Cézanne’s in Provence.
Or, you can just admire the colored plates masterfully reproduced in CEZANNE in