The Letters of Paul Cezanne

Overview

Revered and misunderstood by his peers and lauded by later generations as the father of modern art, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) has long been a subject of fascination for artists and art lovers, writers, poets, and philosophers. His life was a ceaseless artistic quest, and he channeled much of his wide-ranging intellect and ferocious wit into his letters. Punctuated by exasperated theorizing and philosophical reflection, outbursts of creative ecstasy and melancholic confession, the artist’s correspondence reveals ...

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Overview

Revered and misunderstood by his peers and lauded by later generations as the father of modern art, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) has long been a subject of fascination for artists and art lovers, writers, poets, and philosophers. His life was a ceaseless artistic quest, and he channeled much of his wide-ranging intellect and ferocious wit into his letters. Punctuated by exasperated theorizing and philosophical reflection, outbursts of creative ecstasy and melancholic confession, the artist’s correspondence reveals both the heroic and all-toohuman qualities of a man who is indisputably among the pantheon of all-time greats.

This new translation of Cézanne’s letters includes more than twenty that were previously unpublished and reproduces the sketches and caricatures with which Cézanne occasionally illustrated his words. The letters shed light on some of the key artistic relationships of the modern period—about one third of Cézanne’s more than 250 letters are to his boyhood companion Émile Zola, and he communicated extensively with Camille Pissarro and the dealer Ambroise Vollard. The translation is richly annotated with explanatory notes, and, for the first time, the letters are cross-referenced to the current catalogue raisonné. Numerous inaccuracies and archaisms in the previous English edition of the letters are corrected, and many intriguing passages that were unaccountably omitted have been restored. The result is a publishing landmark that ably conveys Cézanne’s intricacy of expression.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Book of the Year, Apollo Magazine, 2013

“In this definitive volume of his letters, which is beautifully illustrated and with richly informative and sensible footnotes, Cézanne himself appears in a number of different tones. He is a young penniless artist afraid of his rich father. . . . He is . . . the dreamy poet, writing to his close friend Émile Zola about his hopes as an artist. . . . He is also ambitious, measuring himself against his contemporaries.”—Irish Times

“An exemplary piece of accessible scholarship.”—Apollo

“Cézanne’s Letters elucidate his frustrations, thinking, friendships (especially with Zola), and ambitions. . . . Recommended.”—Choice

This publication is a major achievement.”—Artforum

Library Journal
01/01/2014
Cézanne (1839–1906) was a studied classicist with a wonderful wit and sense of irony, as the letters in this collection show. Organized in chapters by decade from the 1850s to the 1900s, the letters show him to be a man of great intellect, not the backward, bumbling provincial that art history has presented. Danchev (international relations, Univ. of Nottingham; Georges Braque: A Life) has painstakingly amassed a body of thought that comprises a reevaluation of the man who was the father of modern art and certainly a beacon of painterly light to those around him and with whom he corresponded. These included his childhood friend Émile Zola, who never understood the importance of Cézanne's paintings; Ambroise Vollard, his art dealer; and Camille Pissarro, whom he greatly admired. There are even two letters written by his wife, Hortense, who displayed many concerns about and dedication to her husband, contrary to popular assumptions. VERDICT It seems that art historians have gotten Cézanne all wrong. This book, a corrective glimpse into the painter's world, should be sought after by 20th-century art historians and students of French painting. Recommended as a wise purchase for all Western art history book collections.—Ellen Bates, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606061602
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 812,643
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Danchev is professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham and the author of a number of acclaimed biographies, including Cézanne: A Life (Pantheon, 2012) and Georges Braque: A Life (Arcade, 2012).

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