When a friend and colleague called me the other day to tell me that Madrid’s Thyssen museum had asked us to film a promotional video for its new exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s works, a few well-worn labels came to mind… “The father of modern painting”, “the impressionist precursor of cubism”, “the instigator of abstract art” etc.
Of course, most of this is true but it perhaps misses the essence of Cézanne. When we arrived for the filming, the Thyssen’s artistic director and exhibition curator Guillermo Solana was keen to stress the very physical link in the French painter’s work to his native Provence.
In line with the theories of the American artist Robert Smithson, Solana believes that Cézanne’s painting has been somewhat distorted by his later cubist admirers into a simple abstract and formalist play of forms.
Cézanne certainly produced still lifes and portraits in the studio but outdoor landscape painting was the dominant genre in his work. He wanted to see and sense what he was painting not just think about it.
“Cézanne: site/non-site” is on at the Thyssen museum in Madrid until 18 May and further information can be found on the museum’s English website. If you’re passing through the Spanish capital, it’s well worth a visit.
The video can be used free-of-charge by any broadcaster, blogger or website provided reference is made to the Thyssen Museum’s activities. Further information including free download of the video, additional rushes, soundbites and stills are available at the SpainTVNews / Reportarte production and assistance services in Madrid