Cezanne and the Modern – Ashmolean Museum

“Masterpieces of European Art from the Perlman Collection”

Before today I have to admit that I had consciously seen few Cezanne paintings; I’m sure I’ve seen them in major galleries but never actually looked at them or thought about them. This exhibition has definitely made me want to see more of his work and to find out more about him. The exhibition contains works from the collection of Henry and Rose Perlman, and is the first time it’s been shown in Europe. While the backbone of the show are the Cezanne paintings, there are also works by many of the greats of late 19th and early 20th century art like Degas, Modigliani, Lautrec and others.

Apart from a Degas, which is going to get a post all to itself once I’ve sorted out in my head how I feel about it, for me the stars of the show are the Cezanne watercolours which are breathtaking in their subtly and vibrancy (and that, dear reader, is a hell of a combination to pull off). They look very, very modern to the point where one might imagine somebody today doing something very similar in Photoshop and producing a similar effect. Tree trunks in sharply defined graphite mixed with strange ethereal foliage in many colours and shades are amazing – they are absolutely a representational image…but they’re also just so abstract at the same time.

I loved this one – “Paths, Trees and Walls” from 1900

It’s a great show and well worth catching if you can

There’s a really good review with lots more information on the Perlman collection on the FT Website, and the website of the Perlman Collection itself

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Ruinlust (Tate Britain)

Okay, so I’m way behind with writing these reviews..

I went up to Tate Britain, the ‘old’ Tate Gallery building on Millbank, to see the Ruinlust exhibition: “ the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century to the present day” it says on the website. As a great enthusiast for ruins in art and photography, and in fact ruins in general, I thought I had to give this one a go.

It’s not a big exhibition, but it’s a good one  The usual suspects are there of course – paintings of Tinturn Abbey and a bit of Piranese – but of course an exhibition like this needs them to be anything like complete. It was nice to see them up close too as you can see all the detail. There was also lots by artists I didn’t know and by allowing the concept of ‘ruins’ to be quite loose the curators brought in some nice stuff which was more about urban decay I thought than ruins in the strict sense of the word.  As a major bunker enthusiast I loved the huge image by Jane and Louise Wilson of an Atlantic Wall bunker at Azeville which features on the poster and which is even more impressive ‘on the wall’. If you look at other, purely representational, photos of the Azeville battery such as this one you realise the extent to which this photo is every bit as much an artistic representation of a ruin as Turner and Tinturn is!

If there was something which I thought was missing, it was anything representative of the Urbex movement which so powerfully captures ruins in modern photography, and which I thought would have been essential