Paul Cezanne, The Card Players, 1890–92, Oil on canvas. 25 3/4 x 32 1/4 in.
(c) Metropolitan Museum of Art Bequest of Stephen C. Clark
The latest of Reed College's fantastic Stephen E Osterow Distinguished Vistors in the Arts lecture series (probably the best in the city) is art historian Richard Shiff. The talk is titled "Paul Cezanne, Loss of Subject." The title alone is interesting since art historians are often measured by the subject of their research. To wit, Shiff has completed tomes on Paul Cezanne, Donald Judd, de Kooning and a catalog raisonne for Barnett Newman, all A-listers. He's also the author of Critical Terms for Art History, so for once this will be a lecturer who can make a presentation without using jargon words like "authentic" or the slightly more meaningful but even more overused "notion."
Here are Shiff's own words, which points to the real reason Cezanne is such a pivotal art historical figure, "Perhaps volatile feeling has the final say, not structured reason. Life is manifold, messy, inherently anti-ideological. This is the truth that at least some of Cezanne's early admirers believed his art confirmed. It made them tolerant of the singular opacity-or the utter banality-of images like the Card Players, where marks and their colours attracted more interest than the theme."
...and Reed's press release states, "Art historians usually classify images like Cezanne's Card Players as genre pictures: views of daily life that may reveal attitudes toward a class of society or a set of cultural practices. Can such pictures be abstractions? And if so, abstractions of what? Shiff's lecture investigates the fact that Cezanne's earliest viewers evaluated his Card Players as if they were abstractions, and by this interpretive route, the paintings gained a special social significance."
Lecture: Tuesday | February 7 | 7:00 p.m.
Reed College | 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. | Vollum lecture hall
Free and open to the public
The Cooley Gallery will remain open until 7 p.m.