Two Painters


Mr. Hilton Kramer on the Cézanne/Pissarro exhibit currently showing at MoMA.

To fully understand the exhibition called Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865-1885, which has been organized at the Museum of Modern Art by Joachim Pissarro, the painter’s great-grandson (who is also a MoMA curator), it has to be remembered that the two featured patriarchs of pictorial modernism began their public careers as rejected artists. That is, they were stigmatized as rejected artists by the French government’s annual Salon. But such were the paradoxes of governmental authority in the arts that the French also provided the means for exhibiting these great painters by creating an official Salon des Refusés, which allowed unorthodox talents to be admitted (albeit on a segregated basis) without the approval of an official jury. Thus was born the kind of challenge to established opinion that later came to be called the avant-garde.

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