The Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906) pursued two questions for most of his life: Can an artist create works of art one sensation at a time? And if so, would photos taken this way be in any way more real than those taken by other means?

The sea at L’Estaque behind the trees1878–79

Paul Cézanne. Picasso Museum, Paris

This approach to creating art is complex and distinguishes Cézanne from the circle of impressionists and modern art in general. Perhaps unsurprisingly, fellow artists were among the first to recognize the value of his unique and at the time seemingly unsophisticated approaches to color, technique and materiality. As such, he came to be regarded as the “artist’s artist” and indeed several of his supporters and admirers, including Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro in the 19th century and Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso in the 20th century, called Cézanne “the greatest from all of us.” Today, more than a hundred years after the creation of Cézanne’s last works, artists still honor his commitment to maintaining personal truth in the act of creating art.

Still life with apples (detail), 1893–94

Paul Cézanne. The museum J. Paul Getty, Los Angeles

This exhibition is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States in more than 25 years and the first Cézanne exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in more than 70 years. Planned in coordination with Tate Modern, the ambitious project explores Cézanne’s work in a variety of media and genres with 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two complete sketchbooks. This exceptional range covers Cézanne’s range of signature subjects and series – little-known early allegorical paintings, Impressionist landscapes, Montagne Saint-Victoire paintings, portraits and bathing scenes – and includes both well-known works and rare compositions from public and private collections in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

This extraordinary breadth of works comes together with state-of-the-art technical analysis of the artist’s palette, compositional construction and mark-making, deepening our understanding of how Cézanne conceived and developed his famously deliberate and non-linear process. The exhibition also illuminates the pioneering path that Cézanne blazed for successive generations of artists. Through these complementary perspectives—of art historians, practicing artists, and conservators—this unique exhibition reinterprets Cézanne, a giant of art history, for our time.

Cézanne is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London.

The exhibition is curated by the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gloria Groom, David and Mary Winton Green Chair and Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, and Caitlin Haskell, Gary S. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Tate Modern’s Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art.

Cézanne will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalog published by the Art Institute of Chicago and distributed by Yale University Press, featuring thematic essays by the four curators, as well as contributions from an international selection of artists invited to write about individual artworks in the show.


Leading support for Cézanne was generously provided by John D. and Alexandra S. Nichols.

Core funding was provided by an anonymous donor, the Marlene and Spencer Hayes Foundation, the Butler Family Foundation, Richard F. and Christine F. Karger, the Shure Charitable Trust, Constance and David Coolidge, Amy and Paul Carbone, and Patricia and Ronald Taylor.

Special support is provided by Dora and John Albregze, Julie and Roger Basques, Ethel and Bill Goffen, Natasha Henner and Bala Ragotaman, Barbara and Mark Posner, Margot Levine Schiff and the Harold Schiff Foundation, and Linda and Michael Welsh.

Additional funding was provided by the Jack and Peggy Crow Fund, the Suzanne and Wesley M. Dixon, Herbert R. and Paula Molner, and Regenstein Foundation.

Luminary Trust members provide annual leadership support for museum operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collections care, and educational programs. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor, Neil Blum and the Blum Family Charitable Foundation, Karen Gray-Krebiel and John Krebiel, Jr., Kenneth S. Griffin, the Harris Family Foundation in Memory of Beth and Neeson Harris, Joseph and Margot Lakonishok, Robert M .and Diane v. Levy, Ann and Samuel M. Menkoff, Sylvia Neal and Dan Fishel, Ann and Chris Reyes, Carrie and Michael J. Sachs and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.

Corporate sponsor

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