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This article by F. R. Rivera was prepared for the November 27, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Art Review: `Cezanne in Focus’
Henry Pearlman was born in Brooklyn in 1895. He grew
up on New York’s Lower East Side where he took a job for the United
Cork Company for $7 a week. Pearlman worked hard and before long he
had founded his own business, Eastern Cold Storage.
Success came fast along with an appetite for fine art. As a collector
he was self-taught. He started with the old masters, but by the 1940s
he had acquired his first Soutine. Cezanne, however, was his first
love, his obsession. By the time he finished buying, he had acquired
33 Cezannes that spanned the artist’s entire career.
When Pearlman’s collection was first shown in Brooklyn in 1974, he
had already begun thinking of a custodial home for it. Princeton University
Art Museum’s then-director Peter Bunnell suggested that the show come
to Princeton; and it made its Princeton debut in 1976. Happily for
the Princeton community, the collection earned its official long-term
loan status in 1980
The full collection numbers about 70 pieces; most are not light sensitive
and may be seen year round, unlike the present selection of 16 watercolors,
which has only been shown three times in the last 30 years. In the
summer of 2001, the curatorial staff decided to document this extraordinary
piece of the larger collection. The result may be seen in a remarkable
catalogue that accompanies the show.
Certain of Cezanne’s contemporaries have suggested that
the master of Aix under-valued his watercolors. It is clear that what
he valued above all else was his engagement with nature; and the medium
was less important. The portable watercolors were, perhaps, an ideal
arena in which to work out his researches, but they hold their own
with his oils, even his larger, more ambitious ones.
What comes through in the watercolors is Cezanne’s keen observation
of nature and his struggle to realize its essence. As the poet Rilke
has remarked, "Cezanne took his religion from nature."
Watercolor behaves like air except in Cezanne. What Cezanne does with
it is model building. The least Cubist of all nature’s features are
the skies. Gertrude Stein wrote, however, in a 1938 monograph on Picasso
that Cezanne comes just short of cutting the sky into cubes. Art critic
Clement Greenberg wrote that it was the "Cubists’ luck" to
have Cezanne as a predecessor.
The watercolors, no less than Cezanne’s great oils, reveal a harmonic,
descriptive geometry. Painter Robert Delaunay noted in one of his
sketchbooks that "the watercolors of Cezanne announce cubism."
Whether the Master of Aix valued these watercolors or not was immaterial
to a new generation of artists. Delaunay’s statement was prophetic.
To commemorate Cezanne’s death (October 22, 1906), the gallery Bernheim-Jeune
opened an exhibition of 79 watercolors. The year was 1907, a pivotal
year in the history of modern art; and the show was in a pivotal place,
Paris. These watercolors were seen by — among others — a young
painter called Picasso, who remarked, "As soon as Cezanne makes
his first stroke, the picture is already there."
Little patches of raw canvas are common in Cezanne’s oils; in his
watercolors these areas grow larger and more ubiquitous. They are
framed by end points of color that allow these areas to acquire a
density uncharacteristic of watercolor. Picasso, with his uncanny
ability to drink in what he saw, found in Cezanne’s watercolors a
purposeful misalignment of drawn and painted contours that surfaces
in Picasso’s own "Study for Bathers" in 1907. Picasso, however,
uses water-soluble sepia ink rather than the emerald greens and Prussian
blues of Cezanne.
In Cezanne’s watercolors short bunches of parallel pencil strokes
chase patches of color, but seldom contain them; they are like two
planar screens out of register. Although these planes tilt and bend,
they are spirited along by a system of vectors.
Cezanne had his first show at the Ambroise Vollard Gallery in Paris
in 1895, the same year Pearlman was born, but his watercolors did
not have wide exposure until after his death. Now dead, Cezanne’s
mantle was there for the taking. "He, Cezanne, was my one and
only master," Picasso told the photographer Brassai. "It was
the same for all of us — he was like our father."
The same Cezanne who so prefigured the future — for Picasso, Leger,
Braque, and others — was so rooted in the past that he went to
the Louvre not only to study the masters, but to copy them as well,
right up to the end of his life.
Cezanne abhorred the decorative in painting and he wanted to make
of Impressionism something solid and enduring, "like the art of
the museums." He abstracted from nature, but by no measure did
his work approach pure abstraction. As commentators have said, it
is this door that he left open for the Cubists.
In the Cubism of Picasso and Braque, color is all but banished for
the neutrality of grays and buff, along with copious amounts of black
graphite. As John Rewald has noted in the catalogue raisonne, only
15 percent of all of Cezanne’s watercolors contain no graphite and,
of course, there is plenty of color.
An exceptional Cezanne, unlike the other watercolors, can be seen
in this show. Entitled "Roofs Seen through an Open Window,"
this piece is comprised mostly of graphite, with only minimal washes
of muted color. It could be argued that it is a classical archetype
for subsequent collages by Picasso and Braque. Here Cezanne takes
the basic Cubist tenet of averaging middle ground and foreground into
one shallow compression of space. This piece, intended to be viewed
horizontally, appears vertically because it is on the other side of
"Trees Forming an Arch," a vertical piece.
In her excellent catalogue commentary on the piece, graduate student
Heather Hole compares it to another version of "Roofs Seen Through
an Open Window" in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She notes the
absence of foliage in the Princeton piece; and she writes that Cezanne
has included instead a series of "sensuous arabesques of curving
scrollwork." These scrolls provide a secondary frame, echoing
the frame of the open window, creating what Hole calls "frontal
The juxtaposition of the scrolls (railing) and the oblique lines of
the rooftops results in a leaner, far more architectonic Cezanne than
we normally see. Its affinities with a collage by Picasso, "Bottle
on a Table," dated 1912, are remarkable. The two works are almost
identical in size — about 18 x 24 inches.
There has been so much written about Cezanne from the 1870s to the
present that it must be a daunting exercise to ferret out a new insight,
yet along with Hole, graduate students Scott Allan, Peter Barberie,
William McManus, Mark D. Mitchell, and Marta Weiss do a creditable
job. Also included in the catalogue are an introductory essay by Matthew
Simms, with accompanying remarks by the museum’s associate curator
of prints and drawings, Laura Giles, and the Philadelphia Museum’s
conservator of works on paper, Faith Zieske.
Giles speculates that Cezanne might have been irked by all this attention.
(He was, after all, sometimes called the "Hermit of Aix.")
Late in his career, besieged by admiring artists and critics, he told
an associate that all he wanted was to be left alone so he could spend
his last years painting under his beloved Provencal sun.
— F. R. Rivera
Collection , Princeton University Art Museum, 609-258-3788.
The exhibition of 16 rarely-seen works on paper continues to January
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
Highlights tours every Saturday at 2 p.m.
Visions" group show by area and international artists features
Pedro Rodriguez. Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m., and by appointment. To November 30.
of decorative and functional weavings by Princeton artist Armando
Sosa. A native of Salcaja, Guatemala, Sosa weaves his dreams on handmade
looms creating scenes of soccer games, bullfights, and kite flying.
Open by appointment during school hours; to December 20.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "From Tow Path to Bike Path: Princeton
and the Delaware and Raritan Canal," an exhibition on the history
and creation of the canal, the life of death of its workers, and recent
environmental and preservation issues. Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon
to 4 p.m.; to March.
"One World, One Love," a vibrant show of art, crafts, and
jewelry featuring work by two area artists: ceramics by Erica Barton
Haba and glass art by Ed Steckley. Also on exhibit, hand-painted Haitian
silk, paintings, ceramics, and other arts from the Caribbean. Open
Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To December
Jorge Armenteros, owner of Little Taste of Cuba, introduces "Artista
Cuba," an exhibition of contemporary Cuban folk art presented
on the walls of Triumph. Show is on view through December.
Watercolorists Unlimited group show through January. members include
Donna Senopoulos, Betty Donovan, Miriam Friend, Harriet Kaftanic,
Virginia Hopkins, and Joan Quackenbush. To January 5.
609-252-6275. "Up the River, Now" an exhibition of works by
contemporary painters in the Delaware Valley area. Artists include
Elizabeth Augenblick, Joseph Barrett, Robert Beck, Malcolm Bray, Tom
Chesar, Anne Cooper Dobbins, Suzanne Douglass, Evelyn Faherty, and
James Feehan. Weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 1
to 5 p.m. To December 1.
New works by Bill Giacalone. Open Wednesday through Sunday and evenings
by appointment. To December 1.
609-298-6970. Group show by new gallery artists Eugene Maziarz, Joe
Kassa, and Ed DeWitt. Thursday to Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.. Sunday, 1
to 4. To December 15.
In the Broad Street Antiques Center, the oil, pastel, and watercolor
paintings of Olga Holroyd. Wednesday to Sunday, 11 to 5.
"Sky Flowers," paintings by Hartini Gibson. Open Tuesday to
Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To December
Road, 609-921-3272. Juried show selected by Sam Hunter, professor
emeritus, Princeton University. Award winners are Gilda Aronovic,
Carol Hanson, Anita Benarde, and Connie Gray. In the Upstairs Gallery,
"Oil and Water," watercolors and oils by Diana Wilkoc Patton
and Larraine C. Williams. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday
1 to 4 p.m.
"Recent Paintings" by Stephen Kennedy. Apprenticed to internationally-known
Nelson Shanks during the 1970s, the Fort Washington artist is best
known for his commissioned portraits. Gallery is open Wednesday to
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To November 30.
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. Annual juried members show featuring
award winners Erena Roe, Gary Briechle, and Liz Mitchell. Juror was
Barbara Madsen of Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts. Gallery
hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1
to 4 p.m. To January 18.
609-258-3184. "Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book
Designers," a Milberg Gallery exhibition curated by Rebecca Warren
Davidson. To March 30.
School, Robertson Hall, 609-258-1651. "After September 11,"
an exhibition that explores how the work of area artists has been
influenced by the events surrounding September 11, curated by Kate
Somers. Artists represented: Robert Beck, Eleanor Burnette, Thom Cooney
Crawford, Alan Goldstein, Margaret Kennard Johnson, Amy Kosh, Ken
McIndoe, Barbara Osterman, Margaret Rosen, Ludvic Saleh, Sheba Sharrow,
and Madelaine Shellaby. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To
609-771-2198. "A Painting for Over the Sofa (that isn’t really
a painting)," an invitational exhibition curated by the Bernice
Steinbaum Gallery. Artists represented by paintings and inflatable
sofas include Louise Bourgeois, Rico Gatson, Hung Lui, Pepon Osorio,
Miriam Schapiro, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Deborah Willis. Monday
to Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; Thursdays 7 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to
3 p.m. To December 11.
609-586-4800, ext. 3589. "Line of Inquiry: Artworks that celebrate
the element of Line." Invited artists are Joy Kreves, Elizabeth
McCue, Helen Mirkil, Paul Mordetsky, and Harry Naar. Artists talks
December 4, at 7 p.m., and December 11, at noon. Tuesday to Thursday,
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays 6 to 8 p.m.; Thursdays 7 to 9 p.m. To
609-620-6026. In the Hutchins Gallery, "David FeBland: Paintings."
Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday
and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. To December 10.
Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Mountain Tops," an exhibition
of miniature landscape sculptures of natural stones and sand by William
Brower, poet, sculptor, and seminary faculty member emeritus. Monday
to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 8 p.m. To November
609-895-5589. "This and That: The Art of Michael Ramus," a
retrospective show featuring the paintings, drawings, and illustrations
of the Princeton-based artist. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday,
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. To December 17.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. Exhibitions include: "Paul Signac: A
Collection of Watercolors and Drawings"; to January 19. "Russian
Cover Design, 1920s to 1930s: The Graphic Face of the Post-Revolutionary
and Stalinist Periods"; to March 30. "Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne,"
celebrating the accomplishments of the key figure (1885 to 1979) in
the development of 20th-century abstraction; to December 28.
Also "Yurii Dyshlenko: Abstraction, Modernity, and Mass Media;"
to January 12. "The National Association of Women Artists Collection
at Rutgers," to December 8. "Ben Shahn: The Rilke Portfolio,"
to December 31. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every
Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3; under 18 free; and free on the
609-773-0881. November group show by Robert Allen, Connie Campbell,
Sheila Coutin, Wendy Gordon, Daniele Newbold, Jeane Nielsen, Nancy
Shelly, and Sandra Young. Open Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
To December 1.
Shared show of works by artists Peter Petraglia and Leonard Restiva
featuring an eclectic blend of realistic, impressionistic, and abstract
paintings. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m. To December 1.
"Another Woman’s Dream," a group show of works by Stacie Speer
Scott, Kim Robertson, and Angela Del Vecchio. Open Thursday to Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m. To December 2.
Annual holiday show featuring paintings by Katharine Steele Renninger
and watercolors by Barbara Watts. Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
To January 12.
609-397-7774. Holiday jewelry show. Open Sunday to Friday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To December 31.
908-996-1470. Invitational show including Ed Baumlin, Ed Bronstein,
W. Carl Burger, Christian Corey, Nessa Grainger, Carol Ross, Rhoda
Yanow, and Frank Zuccarelli. Open Wednesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. to
5 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
To January 30.
Recent paintings by Ellie Wyeth Fox and ceramic work by resident artist
Jim Webb. Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5.
To December 22.
"A Celebration: Our Land and Its Bounty," a one-man show of
watercolors by Don Patterson. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to
5 p.m., Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. To November 30.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New World,"
recent additions to the collection featuring works by nine Hungarian
Americans who emigrated to the U.S. between 1920 and 1957. Artists
are Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bertha and Elena De Hellenbranth, Sandor Sugor,
Emil Kelemen, Willy Pogany, Tibor Gergely, Zoltan Poharnok, and Vincent
Korda. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $5 donation. To April, 2003.
732-745-4177. "Uncommon Clay: New Jersey’s Architectural Terra
Cotta Industry," an exhibition of artifacts and written and oral
histories of New Jersey’s once booming architectural ceramics industry.
Open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
On view to May 30, 2003.
732-745-3030. National touring exhibit, "Preserving Memory: America’s
Monumental Legacy," telling the stories behind America’s outdoor
"Robert Sakson: Alone at Last," a solo show by Trenton’s gifted
watercolor artist, part of the Trenton art scene for over 40 years.
Sakson is a member of the major watercolor societies; his work is
in the permanent collections of Princeton’s Firestone Library, the
Ellarslie, Shearson-Lehman, Avon Corporation, AT&T, and others. Tuesday
through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To January
215-340-9800. "Earth, River, and Light: Masterworks of Pennsylvania
Impressionism," an exhibition of notable and rarely exhibited
Pennsylvania Impressionist works. The touring show originates at the
Michener and is accompanied by a new, comprehensive study of Pennsylvania
Impressionism by Brian Peterson; to December 29. $6 adult; $3 child.
Also "The Berenstain Bears Celebrate: The Art of Stan and Jan
Berenstain," the storybook authors’ first museum retrospective,
organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and curated by David Leopold.
The show coincides with the publication of "Down a Sunny Dirt
Road: An Autobiography" by Random House; to January 12. $10 adult;
Also "Retreating to Ideal Environments," works from the New
Hope colony by Daniel Garber, Fern Coppedge, Robert Spencer, and others;
to February 2. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday
and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.
Route 1, North Brunswick, 732-249-2077. "Barnscapes: The Changing
Face of Agriculture in New Jersey," photographs of New Jersey
barns and farmlands, with 42 images by New Jersey landscape photographer
Louise Rosskam. On view to January 17. $4 adults, $2 children.
609-292-6464. "100 New Jersey Artists Make Prints," an exhibition
celebrating 15 years of the New Jersey Print and Paper fellows program
at the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper (RCIPP). Judith
Brodsky, Rutgers professor emerita, is founding director of RCIPP
which is currently directed by Lynne Allen. Museum hours are Tuesday
to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To January
Also "Cultures in Competition: Indians and Europeans in Colonial
New Jersey." Show traces the impact of European settlement on
the native Indians’ way of life after 1600.
from the Collection;" "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The
Archaeological Record;" "Delaware Indians of New Jersey;"
"The Sisler Collection of North American Mammals;" "Of
Rock and Fire;" "Neptune’s Architects;" "The Modernists;"
"New Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron;" "Historical
Archaeology of Colonial New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing
West State Street, Trenton, 609-292-6464. "A Decade of Collecting:
Works from the Museum’s Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Natural
History Collections." Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.,
to January 5, 2003.
Trenton, 609-394-4023. In the main lobby gallery, watercolors, photographs,
and hand-painted prints by Deborah Paglione. Always open. To November
Bronze sculptures by LaRue Harding. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday,
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To December 12.
609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. In the Museum, new work by glass
artist Dale Chihuly, to April 6, 2003. In the Domestic Arts Building,
work by winners of 2002 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary
Sculpture Award, to January 10, 2003. Regular park admission $4 to
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday
is Members Day. Adult admission $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday
and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Memberships start at $55.
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