The exhibition brings to light new, ground-breaking research into the work of one of Modernism’s greatest masters, based on close examination of the DNA makeup that constitutes the papers he used for his watercolours and drawings.
Reconstructing Cezanne is organised in collaboration with scholar and curator Fabienne Ruppen from the University of Zurich. Ruppen’s innovative research methods into paper affinities paint a new picture of Cezanne’s working process, his choice of subjects, the development of his style and the distribution of his oeuvre into genres.
Cezanne produced approximately 2,100 works on paper and Ruppen has studied 1,400 of these works. Her research reveals previously unnoticed materials connections that link certain works to one another and fosters a new approach to looking at Cezanne’s works on paper. Serving as a case study for her argument and bringing together these works to be seen side by side for the first time ever, this focused exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan demonstrates the visual links which this research reveals. The show includes loans from significant public collections, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Fondation Beyeler, Basel and Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, alongside some out- standing private collections of the artist’s work.
At the centre of the exhibition are two watercolours that Cezanne produced from a large sheet of paper, which he divided in two sections for the purpose of capturing different landscapes, the Courtauld Gallery’s long-time celebrated La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, from 1885–87, and a Paysage en Provence, 1885-86. Speaking about this reunion, Ketty Gottardo, Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings at the Courtauld says “I could not believe the chance to have found the perfect match to the Courtauld Gallery’s watercolour of La Montagne Sainte Victoire! I am thrilled that this exhibition will bring them together for the first time”.
These works were likely to have been painted shortly after one another, during a single, or two consecutive sessions. Reunited for the first time in history, these two parts of the same sheet exemplify Ruppen’s research methods and the way these enable us to reconsider Cezanne’s practice based on forensic evidence. The various pairings and groupings of works presented in Reconstructing Cezanne thus undermine existing misconceptions, particularly the dating of Cezanne’s works. Cezanne famously avoided dating his works, leaving the task of sorting more than two thousand drawings and watercolours to future generations of scholars, collectors, curators and conservators.
Speaking about the exhibition, Fabienne Ruppen said: “The show at Luxembourg & Dayan provides a unique opportunity to explore a concise selection of Cezanne’s works on paper in their original context, thus enabling unexpected glimpses into the artist’s creative process. I am excited to see together side by side works which until now I have studied individually”.