Arts / Museums

Blockbuster Exhibition Movie Brings the Father of Art to Houston

This is Cezanne Like You’ve Never Seen Him Before

BY // 07.26.18

If you missed the blockbuster Cezanne Portraits exhibition that toured museums in Paris and London — and just closed in Washington, D.C. — you’ll now have a golden opportunity to see the exhibition-based 2018 documentary, Cézanne: Portraits of a Life. It is screening this weekend (Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

While the acclaimed exhibition was on view earlier this year at London’s National Portrait Gallery, The Guardian hailed the film as an “engaging primer” that paints a strong picture of legendary artist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906).

As for the exhibition itself, without mincing words, The Telegraph pronounced it “the art show of the year” that “must be seen” not only for the way it highlights Cezanne’s “colossal” influence, but for the “sheer power of its paintings.”

In Paris, where the exhibition opened, the Musee d’Orsay website observed that the prolific French artist had painted nearly 200 portraits, and was praised by both Matisse and Picasso as “the father of us all.”

The Musee d’Orsay wooed visitors to the portrait exhibition by hinting that glimpses of Cezanne’s private life “and even very personal confessions can be detected in these faces,” including his “complex” relationship with his wife, whose enigmatic visage is featured in “Madame Cezanne in Blue.”

Anyone who has seen that portrait of Madame Cezanne when it’s been on view upstairs in the MFAH Beck Building has surely wondered, like me, what was on Madame’s mind (and her husband’s) as she sat for that picture. At the very least, her expression seems to epitomize the essence of patience on a broad spectrum.

After all, sitting for a painter’s portrait is considerably more time-consuming than posing for a selfie, and Cezanne painted quite a few (29 in all) pictures of her.

It’s likely we will get closer to the story behind the story on that and many other intriguing Cezanne portraits in this special, highly praised documentary, which I suspect will be exceptionally well-attended by Houston art lovers.

My advice: Book early.

Cézanne: Portraits of a Life shows Friday at 3 pm and Saturday at 3 pm at MFAH. After the Saturday screening of the 90-minute movie, harpist Susanna Campbell will perform. The movie showings are included with any MFAH admission.

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