Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865-1885 at LACMA

One of the current traveling exhibits at LACMA is Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865-1885 which is running from October 20, 2005 through January 16, 2006.

I recently saw the show and it is quite remarkable how Cezanne and Pissarro set out to paint the same landscapes and came up with different pictures according to what interested them.

I noticed that Pissarro was more likely to include people in his pictures while Cezanne didn't. Pissarro seemed more interested in the details of the scene while Cezanne focused in on the geometric shapes and less on fine details. In simplistic terms, Pissarro's landscapes seemed to me more photo realistic and even at times a bit soft focus while Cezanne's works looked higher contrast, more dimensional but details would be obscured. Cezanne's color choices usually seemed bolder but on occasion his friend Pissarro would match him but in most cases I felt Pissarro's colors were mid-way between color and black and white photography.

Anyway, it is a really unique show because it showed two painters who were friends who painted the same places in France with different results. Both in their own ways were pushing the edge of painting conventions of the time. It is hard to imagine them as revolutionary as their work is so accepted now. But the placards at the exhibit informs us they were experimentalists of their time.

If in LA, do check it out and LACMA.

"Life is a bowl of cherries ... and grapes, peaches and nectarines" (available light)

"Life is a bowl of cherries ... and grapes, peaches and nectarines" (flash photography)

My inspiration for this flight of artistic/photographic fancy is, of course, the fact that most museums of art will have a section for classic still life paintings.

Copy the following link into a new browser window to see a prime example ...

Paul Cézanne, "Still Life With Cherries And Peaches" is on public display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In the exhibit I saw described above, there were a few still lifes.

Why would someone want a still life painting in their home?

In the modern age, we can get California summer fruits in the summer of course. But in the winter, we can get summer fruits because they can be imported from the Southern hemisphere. So I suppose the wealthy of the past might want a still life to have pictures of things they only have part of the year.

I suppose there might be a certain glamour to having a painting in your home. The wealthy could afford such luxuries and so they buy them. They could show themselves off as wealthy and as patron of the arts.

Economically, though, I wonder how expensive was art work in the past? Today, you can browse along the Venice Boardwalk and see paintings from little known local artists. The paintings aren't cheap but they don't command exorbitant prices either.

I suppose if the painter of a still life was a total unknown a century or two ago, his work might not be too expensive while he was alive though I suppose it was still beyond the reach of the common folk.

In anycase, if in Los Angeles, check out LACMA. And if you get here before January 16, 2006, check out the Cezanne-Pissaro exhibit.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

M,Tu,Th: 12 noon to 8 pm.
F: 12 noon to 9 pm.
Sat, Sun: 11 am to 8 pm.

LACMA is Free After Five, sponsored by Target.
Closed Wednesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas day.

Originally posted June 8, 2005.
Extensively revised November 30, 2005


Blogger Aaron M. Segal said...

This show sounds very interesting. The reason for the differences between their work was that Pissarro was still stuck in 18th centaury realism while Cézanne was inventing modern painting by breaking from representation and focusing on composition

12:15 AM  

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