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Two modern painting giants meet in Aix-en-Provence (France) - Draw Like A Pro


Two modern painting giants meet in Aix-en-Provence (France)

(From mai 25th until September 27th 2009)

The influence of Cezanne on Picasso is a well recognized and interesting fact among art lovers. The intimate motivations and passions of an artist are always a thrilling aspect of art history. His respect and passion for Cezanne is well illustrated by the purchase of the chateau de Vauvenargues at the bottom of the “Sainte-Victoire mountain” in 1959.

Through 110 paintings, drawings, water-color paintings and sculptures, the Granet Museum focuses on the respectful passion of Picasso for Cezanne.
The recent exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, “Picasso et les maîtres” showed us an artist, admiror of ancient painting. At the Granet museum, as he presents the love of Picasso for Cezanne’s work , Yves Kneusé uses a bare and even austere decoration as a reminder of the humbleness of Picasso toward the old master. It reminds us of the “Château de Vauvenargues” and its rough and peaceful garrigue (scrubland).


Facing the one he always called “Monsieur Cezanne”, the one he never even dared to meet, the one he saw as his “one and only master”, Picasso is not the conquering adventurer of “Menines” or of “Alger women”. When he decides to climb the Sainte-Victoire mountain more than half a century after the death of the genius of “Provence”, he picks the north side. Almost like he wouldn’t dare going the south side, the dangerous one, the one Cezanne diffracted more than 80 times, revolutionizing art in an irreversible way.

When he thinks of Cezanne who was the most cultivated of the impressionists, Picasso doesn’t put himself first; he is not tempted to play his own role as he often does. What he sees first in Cezanne is the thinker in the process of imagining his own painting says Bruno Ely, director of the museum who, by the diversity of the paintings and drawings, proves himself right.

The exhibition, on about 400 m2, has four sections on two levels. On the bottom floor, Picasso gets the feel of Cezanne’s techniques (sense of values, structuring touch, a permanent lack of balance which, in the end, gives a true balanced composition) and of his themes (Harlequin, the white compote dish, the pipe smoker). We all see the love and respect for the master.

We admire, here, a great understanding of that period of Picasso’s work which is not as well known as the blue, the pink or the cubist period but yet, full of life and vitality. At the age of 77, Picasso finds, in the work space of Cezanne, a new youth.
He also painted sceneries. He painted three times the village of “Vauvenargues”. Unfortunately, we will not be able to enjoy “nude under the pine tree” which had to stay in the Chicago museum.

The Picasso family was actually very generous as they lent forty unpublished paintings. Other museums gave us access to many exceptional masterpieces like that splendid Harlequin by Cezanne who had barely ever left The National Gallery.
Altogether, the exhibition gives us another vision of Picasso’s immense work as we discover, through modern techniques, one major source of inspiration of this master of the 20th century that was Pablo Picasso.

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