`Cezanne in Provence'

D.c. Highlights

Visual Arts

September 09, 2005|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Again and again - beginning in 1882, when he returned from Paris to his native Provence, until his death there in 1906 - Paul Cezanne painted the brooding form of Mont Sainte Victoire in rhythmic brushstrokes of shimmering intensity.

As a young man, his great ambition had been "to make of Impressionism something solid and durable, like the art of the museums." In Provence, he accomplished that goal and, in the process, changed the course of European art.

This is the achievement celebrated in Cezanne in Provence, the major retrospective marking the 100th anniversary of the artist's death that opens next year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Today, Cezanne is recognized as one of the greatest painters of the 19th century, a visionary whose radical experiments with light, color and form sought to uncover the enduring forms of nature that lay beneath appearances.

In the process, he painted one masterpiece after another and compiled an artistic legacy that can never be surpassed.

Major Cezanne exhibitions are always extraordinary events that attract audiences from around the world. The National Gallery show, which opens Jan. 29 and runs through May 7, promises to more than live up to the high expectations that await it.

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