A handful of individuals have changed the way we perceive the world around us, even the way we think about ourselves: in science, Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, and perhaps Freud; in art, Giotto and Cézanne. Five hundred years of Western painting, the illusionism that preoccupied artists from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, were signaled by Giotto’s robustly modeled figures. Cézanne was the first to suggest how these entrenched values could be transformed. Yet the “prophet of modernism,” as he has been called, never rejected tradition. “To my mind,” Cézanne wrote in 1905, “one should not substitute oneself for the past, one has merely to add a new link.” His work connects the past with what was to come, pointing to what would be the future of adventurous painting in Europe and America but at the same time profoundly informed by the Classicism of Nicolas Poussin, the Romanticism of Eugène...


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