Philadelphia

“Cézanne and Beyond”

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The sumptuous “Cézanne and Beyond” was that rare thing: a blockbuster show of modern painting that looks forward, not backward. In a climate where shows of the formula “Artist X and the Old Masters” have increasingly become the safe choice for museums, we must applaud curators Joseph J. Rishel and Katherine Sachs for resisting the art historian’s natural instinct to think retrospectively. Indeed, their effort to trace an artist’s bequest to future generations is very much like adjudicating a fraught inheritance: Any major legacy is bound to be contested by its presumptive heirs.

To the organizers’ credit, this exhibition—featuring sixty paintings and drawings by Paul Cézanne and more than ninety works by other artists, including Francis Alÿs and Jeff Wall—didn’t silence these conflicts. On the contrary, it abounded in them. Each of the genres (portraiture, still life, landscape, figure)

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