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.

Sleeping By The Mississippi

As a young photographer with “nothing to lose” Soth did a road trip down the Mississippi. The resultant book, just re-printed, is regarded as one of the “great representations of the United States”.  “Charles – with his aviation gear and model airplanes – represents a “humble search for creative exploration”. Sleeping by the Mississippi, [is] a lyrical way of moving through the world that hints at sleep and dreams.”

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.