Cezanne in Florence (times two)
Dr. Paul Galvez is a historian of modern art from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. He was most recently a research fellow and visiting lecturer at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas, Dallas, where he also was acting director of the MA Program in Art History. His research interests include the history of artistic practice and technique in modernist painting and sculpture, materialism and the search for origins, hybridity and translation in the visual arts, and the relationships between art, literature, and the sciences. His study of Gustave Courbet and materiality, Courbet’s Landscapes: The Origins of Modern Painting, came out in 2022. His most recent publications are on Paul Cezanne’s drawings, James Ensor and caricature, Antoine Wiertz and contemporary art, and Brice Marden’s last paintings.
Paul Cezanne never visited Italy. But for a short period around the end of the nineteenth century there were more Cezanne paintings in Florence than anywhere in the world outside of Paris and Aix-en-Provence. Charles Loeser, Egisto Fabbri, Bernard Berenson, and Roger Fry collected and/or wrote about Cezanne at a time when he was barely known to English-speaking audiences. At one level, my project is a study of Cezanne’s Florentine reception within a circle of influential connoisseurs of Renaissance art. But at another level, it is also about the reception of the Renaissance within early modernism. Why were these Renaissance men drawn to Cezanne? What was it about their view of Italian painting that suddenly made Cezanne a legible and desirable object? Complementing the Anglo-American reception of Cezanne in Florence around 1895-6 is a central European one around 1910-2, also based in Florence, in the circle of György Lukács, Léo Popper, and Lajos Fülep. From the same raw material, the Renaissance and Cezanne, the latter came to altogether different conclusions. Between the two historical moments of Cezanne reception, we can trace the transition from an art of plastic form to one of bodily material.