Baltimore Museum of Art Presents First Exhibition to Explore Cézanne’s Influence on American Art

. December 26, 2009

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s new exhibition, Cézanne and American Modernism, brings together 16 dazzling landscapes, still lifes, and portraits by the French master with more than 80 paintings, watercolors, and photographs by artists such as Max Weber, Alfred Stieglitz, and Marsden Hartley to show Cézanne’s profound impact on American artists at the beginning of the 20th-century.

Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne, “Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry”, c. 1897. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA 1950.196

Along with the BMA’s two great Cézanne paintings, “Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry” and “Bathers”, the exhibition showcases outstanding works from public and private collections throughout the U.S., including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This nationally traveling exhibition is a special ticketed event that includes complimentary audio tours for both adults and kids. “Cézanne and American Modernism” is co-organized by the Montclair Art Museum and The Baltimore Museum of Art and is on view in Baltimore February 14 through May 23, 2010.

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is universally acclaimed as the father of modern art for his revolutionary use of flattened perspective, carefully structured compositions, and his signature technique of painting with patches of color. This exhibition is the first to reveal how a small group of pioneering American artists championed the reclusive French artist before he gained international prominence. Although the American painters and photographers never met Cézanne in person, his long and prolific career provided many avenues of influence for artists to explore. Some were drawn to his tranquil landscapes of the French countryside, while others appreciated his reinterpretations of classical still life and figure paintings. In Cezanne’s late works, discrete objects increasingly dissolve into brilliant patches of color, inspiring some Americans to experiment with abstraction. His skill in watercolor encouraged many American modernists to attempt the technique for the first time.

The transformative impact of Cézanne’s painting is vividly illustrated by the American artists’ adaptations of his stylistic hallmarks and subjects. Marsden Hartley was introduced to Cezanne’s work in 1911, moved to the south of France in 1925 to be closer to the native countryside of his mentor, and produced his own rugged and colorful modern landscapes. Cézanne’s powerful images of bathers in the landscape moved Man Ray to pay homage in his Cubist-inspired compositions of the same topic.

The French artist’s strong and powerful portraits motivated Stanton Macdonald-Wright to produce an image of his brother in a colorful and confident style. Artists such as Patrick Henry Bruce, Andrew Dasburg, and Charles Demuth were inspired by Cézanne’s still-life compositions and variously reflect his affinity for vibrant colors, tilted table tops, multiple views, and complex structures.

Cézanne’s influence on early 20th-century American photography is examined for the first time with examples by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, and others who played a pivotal role in introducing modernism to America by experimenting with closely cropped portraits, abstraction with still-life imagery, or arcadian themes with nudes and bathers in landscape settings.

Cézanne’s remarkable impact on art in the western United States is seen in works by Willard Nash, Józef Bakoś, B.J.O Nordfeldt, and others who spent varying lengths of time in the region. These American modern artists merged the influence of Cézanne with inspiration from the Western landscape and culture. Cézanne also inspired a new generation of younger artists who discovered him for the first time during the 1920s. This includes Arshile Gorky, who created strikingly faithful imitations of Cézanne’s work while living in New York. African-American artists William H. Johnson and Hale Woodruff both visited France at this time and embraced aspects of Cézanne’s palette and structural style early in their careers.

General admission to the BMA is free; Cézanne and American Modernism is a special ticketed event. The BMA is open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. (except major holidays). The Museum is closed Monday, Tuesday, New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The BMA is located on Art Museum Drive at North Charles and 31st Streets, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

For general Museum information, call 443-573-1700 or visit

Category: Fine Art News

Comments are closed.