Madame Cézanne

Paul Cézanne, Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress, 1888–90, oil on canvas, 45 7/8 x 35
Paul Cézanne, Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress, 1888–90, oil on canvas, 45 7/8 x 35 1/4 inches (Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. Purchase Fund, 1962)

Charles Kessler blogs about the exhibition Madame Cézanne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through March 15, 2015.

Kessler writes: "I don't think capturing [Madame Cézanne's] personality, or the personality of any other of his sitters for that matter, was Cézanne's concern, any more than capturing the personality of an apple or a landscape was... Furthermore, I disagree with the common description of Cézanne's art as composed of massive, rounded, solid forms... Instead of massive, rounded and solid, I perceive Cézanne's work as elusive, evanescent, and unstable... Cézanne's compositions are always a little off – slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) out of balance. They can be asymmetrical, elongated, broken up, tipsy, uncentered; and forms fluctuate back and forth between inhabiting three-dimensional space and lying flat on the surface. This is what gives Cézanne's art energy and dynamism, and its expressive, if often disconcerting, power."