Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 5-7 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard-copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."

THE MANY FACES OF HORTENSE

January 14, 2015

Tags: Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence). Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in the Conservatory, 1891. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. (92.1 x 73 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960.
At first I wasn’t eager to see “Madame Cézanne” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (through March 15). I revere the Master of Aix-en-Provence as nearly a deity, but it’s his landscapes (especially the latest ones) that really set my nerve ends quivering.

Next on my list of most-favorite Cézannes are the still lifes (especially the simplest ones). Last come the figure studies, especially the portraits--which, when you see them individually, all appear very similar.

Add to that the fact that this show consists of 24 oils, 17 pages of drawings and three watercolors, all portraits of the same person—and I began to fear for my faith. (more…)

THE WORLD IN AN APPLE: CÉZANNE IN PHILLY

August 30, 2014

Tags: Cézanne

Paul Cézanne, Pitcher and Plate with Pears (Pichet et assiette de poires), 1895–98, oil on canvas, 19 5⁄16 × 23 3⁄16 in. (49 × 59 cm), Private Collection (Courtesy Nancy Whyte Fine Arts, Inc).
You would think that, with 69 Cézannes in its permanent collection, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia might feel it had enough Cézanne, but no—it seems to feel that it can never get enough.

Since I feel the same way, I beat feet to Philadelphia to see the Barnes’s latest special exhibition, (more…)

FASHION & IMPRESSIONISM AT THE MET

May 12, 2013

Tags: Manet, Monet, Bazille, James Tissot, Fantin-Latour, Cassatt, Cézanne, Courbet, Caillebotte, Degas, Whistler

Jean-Frédéric Bazille (French, 1841-1870). Family Reunion. 1867. Oil on canvas, 58 7/8 x 90 9/16 inches (152 x 230 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Acquired with the participation of Marc Bazille, brother of the artist, 1905.
Here is a show that I am the wrong critic for. It is “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 27). This show, which purports to offer “a revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries,” includes some 80 major figure paintings, together (more…)

THE BARNES FOUNDATION, PART 1: THE PUBLIC RECORD

July 12, 2012

Tags: Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse

Room 18, east wall, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. (c)2012 The Barnes Foundation.

“The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention” is the title of one of my favorite short stories, by Dorothy L. Sayers, but it might just as well be the title of the tumultuous history of the Barnes Foundation, which this spring opened its doors to visitors at its new home in center city Philadelphia. That history begins (more…)

THE BARNES FOUNDATION, PART 2: THE PERSONAL IMPRESSION

July 12, 2012

Tags: Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir

View from 21st Street. The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. (March 2012). (c) Tom Crane 2012.


I blush to admit that I never responded to the mystique of the old Barnes Foundation in Merion, not at least in the way its most fervent partisans did, though naturally I greatly admired the many virtues of its memorable collection. Maybe that's because I share what Greenberg called (more…)