PRINT September 2014


The Letters of Paul Cézanne

Letter from Paul Cézanne to Claude Monet, January 16, 1902. Photo: Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, Paris.

CÉZANNE WOULD HAVE HATED THIS BOOK—and Artforum, and me, for reporting its existence.

Writing in April 1896, angry at “scoundrels who, for a fifty-franc article, have drawn the attention of the public to me,” Cézanne complained, “All my life, I have worked to be able to earn my living, but I thought that one could paint well without attracting attention to one’s private life. Certainly an artist wishes to improve himself intellectually as much as possible, but the man should remain obscure.”

Cézanne was then fifty-seven, and the reverberations of his first solo exhibition were continuing unabated. Since his showing of seventeen works almost two decades earlier, in the Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877, only three of his paintings had been seen in Paris; now, this past winter, Ambroise Vollard had exhibited some 150 on a rotating basis. This made Cézanne the artist famous,

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