The Easel

31st October 2017

How Cezanne rescued the portrait: the UK’s exhibition of the year

Isolated in Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne struggled to express in paint what he truly saw. This quest impacted his portraits just as much as his famed landscapes. Early youthful romanticism give way to later exuberant use of colour. And then came his multiple portraits of his wife, “by turns casual and straightforward, stylised into flattened shapes … complex and dissonant”. Beyond this “painterly evolution” lay the path to modern art.

Body shock: the intense art and anguish of sculptor Alina Szapocznikow

An interesting bio piece. Having somehow survived both ghetto and concentration camp Szapocznikow abruptly trained as a sculptor. The works that eventuated focused on the “fragile and abject” human body – frequently using casts of her own body. Despite being a notable art world figure in Paris and Warsaw, Szapocznikow faded from memory outside her native Poland. Now sustained resurgence in interest is underway.

The meaty essence of humanity – Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters & Bellboys review

Some critics think Soutine’s portraits of hospitality staff reflect a concern for others. This writer is unconvinced. Soutine was indifferent to anything outside his own emotions – “these people are meat for his artistic vision.”  What is not in doubt is that his extraordinary, raw, portraits have been highly influential among artists, acclaimed by Willem de Kooning, Lucien Freud and more. More images are here.