Cézanne: seeing the world afresh in a flaubertian way


In the autumn of 1910, a little exhibition was held at the Grafton Galleries in London, entitled Manet and the Post-Impressionists, with works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. These were wild, rough-edged paintings, vertiginous with hazards in perspective and form. The curator was a talented critic and connoisseur, Roger Fry, who also played a grandfatherly role in the family romance that was Bloomsbury. Virginia Woolf, in her often moving biography of Fry (one of the last things she wrote), gives an amusing sketch of the public reaction to the exhibition: stiffly upholstered old ladies tried to stifle their laughs and then gave way to helpless guffaws of abuse; portly gentlemen redly tut-tutted; letters of complaint to newspapers were written; prominent chiefs of the art establishment and paralytic academicians were wheeled out to condemn the “lunatics” who painted this way; a famous doctor judged Fry to be clinically insane.

more from James Wood at the Guardian here.