For more than a century the art of Paul Cézanne was deemed to hold the key to modernity. His painting was a touchstone for Samuel Beckett as much as Henri Matisse. Rainer Maria Rilke revered him deeply, as did Pablo Picasso. If we lost touch with his sense of life, they thought, we lost an essential element in our self-understanding.
In If These Apples Should Fall, T. J. Clark looks back on Cézanne from a moment – our own – when such judgments may seem to need justifying. What was it, the book asks, that held Cézanne’s viewers spellbound?
At the heart of Cézanne lies a sense of disquiet: a homelessness haunting the vividness, an anxiety underlying the appeal of colour. T. J. Clark addresses this strangeness head-on, and examines the art of Pissarro, Matisse and others in relation to it; above all, he speaks to the uncanniness and beauty of Cézanne’s achievement.
Written in his characteristically engaging style by one of our most significant writers on art, If These Apples Should Fall is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Cézanne, or indeed the history of modern art.