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A Paul Cezanne retrospective, opening in Chicago and then coming to London, will be the artist’s largest monographic exhibition since the 1990s. The two venues are the Art Institute of Chicago (15 May-5 September) and Tate Modern (5 October-12 March 2023).
The Chicago presentation of Cezanne includes 90 oil paintings, 40 watercolours and two sketchbooks, with a slightly smaller selection in London. The Cezanne shows will open with a self-portrait of around 1875, on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The curatorial team, led by Gloria Groom (Chicago) and Natalia Sidlina (Tate), is focusing on Cezanne’s finest works, to tell the story of the development of his art.
Among the key loans will be The Bather (around 1885), coming from New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The painting was recently studied and conserved for the exhibition (supported by Bank of America), and it was discovered that Cezanne worked from a photograph of the muscular young bather who was his model.
Cezanne’s watercolour Still life with Milk Pot, Melon and Sugar Bowl (1900-06) is being lent by an anonymous European private collector. Once owned by the US car manufacturer Edsel Ford, it sold at Christie’s in 2020 for $29m, a huge sum for a work on paper.
A surprise loan will be Cezanne’s palette and box of watercolour paints. These were bought four years ago from the artist’s great-grandson, Philippe Cezanne. They were acquired by the Musée Granet in the artist’s hometown, Aix-en-Provence.
The Chicago and London shows, and catalogue, will also emphasise the influence that Cezanne had on his contemporaries and 20th-century artists. One particularly striking example is his Still life with Fruit Dish (1879-80), also on loan from MoMA. It was once owned by Paul Gauguin, who described it as “an exceptional pearl, the apple of my eye”.
Gauguin included the painting in the background of Woman in front of a Still life by Cezanne (1890), now in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The pair of pictures by the two artists will be shown alongside each other in Chicago. Tate has decided to present only works by Cezanne. But the artist’s Still life with Fruit Dish will be shown in London for the first time, along with 20 other Cezannes which have never been exhibited in the UK.
Significantly, Cezanne is a venture between two international museums, in Chicago and London. In announcing the exhibition, the Tate Modern’s director Frances Morris said that in future such major shows would have to be collaborations, to help cut costs and reduce the environmental impact of shipping.