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.
'An electrifying account of looking intently to fathom Cézanne’s pictures: what makes their beauty still so uncanny, precarious, visionary. Stalking his subject with a hawk’s eye, a philosopher’s mind and an open heart, Clark unfolds both the artist at work and his own evolving responses ...The best book on Cézanne since Meyer Schapiro’s in 1962 … an electrifying companion'
Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times, Books of the Year
'A book that shows how this great artist is still stretching minds'
Jonathan Jones, Guardian
'Characteristically brilliant and provocative … fascinating'
Gabriel Josipovici, TLS
'Clark is an astonishingly good judge. He can bend language around an image until the two are only millimetres apart ... there are bold observations on almost every page of this book'
Art in America