For ten years the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) has been working to create a “master” exhibit. It has succeeded by working closely with the Baltimore Museum to create the exclusive Cézanne exhibit. This exhibit is the most important collection that has ever been showcased at the museum in its 95 years of existence. The Cézanne exhibit is extremely unique in that it not only displays the works of Cézanne, but also the works of artists that were influenced by him.
Cézanne, who’s that? Cézanne was a French artist who revolutionized art during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. During this period, artists were judged on how well they could replicate the subject of their art. Cézanne had a different belief, a new approach. He decided to depict the subject the way that it made him feel, his perception. At first there was shock among the artistic community, an apple does not look like that. Slowly people started to understand and slowly his new technique gained traction. He began to influence other artists of the time and he continues to do so to this day.
The chief curator of this exhibit, Gail Stavitski, chose to organize it by painting versus by artist. So the original painting by Cézanne was featured next to the painting that was the product of his influence. This makes it much easier to see the resemblance and influence that Cézanne exhibited over these artists.
The showcase also features an audio tour. Most of the paintings feature a phone number on a plaque next to it. when you call this number a brief description of the painting you are looking at will play. There are also written descriptions of every painting in the exhibit. The chief curator along with a research assistant does research on each painting and then creates a plaque for the exhibit and also a catalog.
In chronological relation to other artists you may have heard of, Cézanne comes before Matisse and Picasso and after Monet. Cézanne’s work was considered abstract and against “protocol”. He revolutionized art and is a very influential figure in the art community.
The exhibit is very detailed and inventive and I encourage you to visit it in the short time left that it is here. It is a good way to spend a day during winter break. The exhibit in on view at the Montclair Art Museum until January 3, 2010. Museum and exhibit information can be found a the museum’s website, http://www.montclairartmuseum.org/, or you can call 973-746-5555.