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Cezanne: A Life Hardcover – Oct 23 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 23 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307377075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307377074
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 4.5 x 23.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Advance Praise for Cézanne
“Impressive . . . Danchev has researched every facet and nuance of Paul Cézanne’s life. [He] rightly subscribes to the theory that understanding the man is important to understanding his work.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“A major work of scholarship. With great sensitivity and genuine brio, Danchev paints a compelling portrait of the artist, who managed to overcome the demons that haunted him to transform himself into what many consider the greatest painter of his age. This is the best account to date of Cézanne’s astonishing career—a book that will survive the test of time.”
—John Golding, author of Visions of the Modern
Praise for Georges Braque
“A vivid and cogent portrayal of a grave and moral man.”
—Julian Barnes, The Guardian, “Books of the Year”
“In this first biography of Braque, Danchev has produced an extraordinary book which, though very different in style from John Richardson’s Picasso or Hilary Spurling’s Matisse, matches theirs in interest. Its brisk account is written with compelling urgency.”
—Frances Spalding, The Independent
“The fun-filled partnership between Braque and Picasso is brought to glorious life in this new biography.”
—Peter Conrad, The Observer
“A pleasure to read: persuasive, rewarding, controversial, and, above all, witty.”
—Modern Painters

About the Author

ALEX DANCHEV was educated at University College, Oxford; Trinity Hall, Cambridge; and King’s College London. He is the author of several highly acclaimed biographies, including Georges Braque. His most recent books are a collection of essays, On Art and War and Terror, and 100 Artists’ Manifestos. He writes regularly for The Times Literary Supplement and Times Higher Education. He has held fellowships at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.; St. Antony’s College, Oxford; and King’s College London. He is a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham. He lives in England.

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Inside This Book

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gordon J. Bitney on Feb. 13 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a first rate study of Cézanne and his art. Danchex explores the very subtle yet ground breaking work of one of the great painters of the nineteenth century. I would have entitled the book differently for it concentrates on what Cézanne accomplished, rather than his life. I would recommend it to anyone interested in art.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 46 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Extraordinary scholarship, very good read. Jan. 4 2013
By Sharon Knettell - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an artist I am often leery of biographies of artists as they tend to glamorize the more salacious aspects of an artists life.-This did not- perhaps because Cezanne was more monk-like in his dedication to his art. I learned a great deal about his extraordinary work methods- his insistence, in trooping out day after day painting and experiencing his landscapes. This is contrary to much current practice of landscape copiers- I can't even call them painters, who snap photos and retire to the studio to finish them up. I was teaching a figurative workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona- a place of breathtaking vistas when I passed a 'landscape class'. The students were all inside, lined up on long tables, while the instructor showed them how to copy the small pictures taped next to their canvasses. Cezanne was one with his landscapes. He felt them and it it extaordinarily evident in the originality of his painting of them- they are not mere renderings.

He painted his apples and portraits with the same intense scrutiny, strangely he painted his nudes from his head or old school drawings.

There are some wonderful descriptions of his methodology and the artist matierials he used. Danchev describes the colors and pigment Cezanne used- useful to any painter. I would have loved a bit more of that.

The only quibble I have with this book is a lay person trying to get inside a head of a painter- Danchev did a fair job, but I wish art writers or critics would like Adam Gopnik take drawing lessons from Jacob Collins just to see what a struggle it is to learn how to draw. Maybe then we would have better art critics and biographers who are more in tune with their subjects.

The picture reference could be better- they are small- but this should impel a visit to a museum so see them- well worth the trip.

All in all it is a wonderful book and a good read. It leads to a greater appreciation and understanding of the enormous impact Cezanne had on art.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A masterful biography Feb. 24 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an impressive work: prodigious research, lively presentation, and written from a very compassionate point of view. Working my way through the biography, I felt each chapter giving me a bit more information or another point of view until by the closing chapters I felt I had acquired a satisfying sense of who the man was from his own words, from the events of his life, from contemporary accounts, and from other appreciations (notably for me the wonderfully sensitive and expressive Rilke). But the book is work. It is written beautifully but organized less than helpfully with footnotes all collected at the end and illustration legends at the front. This is a shame, because the illustrations are well discussed and the footnotes are themselves full of fascinating information. But the laborious layout is a minor matter compared to the pleasure of reading this warm and intelligent account.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Alex Danchev's elegant examination through words and pictures of Aix's Paul Cezanne Jan. 17 2013
By C. M Mills - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) has been called the Father of Modern Art. Cezanne was born in Aix, France near Marseilles. He was a lifelong friend of Emile Zola (1840-1902) the great naturalist novelist of such works as "Germinal" and "Therese Raquin." Zola also wrote a novel "The Masterpiece" in which he used his pal Cezanne as a model for his main character.Zola and Cezanne met when the were at school. Cezanne shielded the unpopular Zola from the slings and arrows sent his way by fellow students. Cezanne's closest friend in the art world was Camille Pissaro. Pissaro was a god to the impressionist art movers and shakers. Cezanne was also on a friendly plane with such luminaries as Renoir, Degas, Monet and Manet. He had a solitary but polite personality. Cezanne was shy but strong willed. The great artist painted slowly using heavy strokes in his painting. Cezann enjoyed plein-air work and was an omnivorous reader in many fields including literature, philosophy and art. He mastered his art.
Cezanne came from a wealthy and well respected family. His father was an affluent banker. Lad Cezanne had two sisters Marie and Rose. He had troubles with his family not admitting that he had fathered a child by a woman named Hortense. Cezanne and his son Paul were close throughout their lives.
Alex Danchev is the author of this beautiful biography of a great man. The book is well illustrated with 86 color plates and 52 black and white illustrations. Danchev quotes extensively from the writings of Zola, Cezanne and their friends and critics.
Cezanne was sent to Paris to study law but found painting more congenial to his genius. The artist lived modestly but did inherit a large income from his father following the elder Cezanne's death in the 1880s. Among Cezanne's masterpieces are "The Bathers"; "The Card Game"; several portraits of prominent Parisians and his own self-portraits painted during his life. Danchev analyzes these works with erudition and insight. Cezanne sold few paintings in his life not having his first exhibition until the late age of 56. Danchev also comments on the Cezanne inflence in the art of such diverse artists as Pablo Picasso, Sameul Beckett and Allen Ginsberg.
Cezanne was often disdained by the academic French Art Academy. The artist was accused of being a gauche barbarian, madman and bad painter. Depsite the disdain of the Academy we now recognize Paul Cezanne as one of France's and the world's greatest artist.
The book is written in a scholarly style. Many of the chapters are written in the style of essays. The book is not for beginners of art studies. This is the best popular biography of Paul Cezanne, his art and the world of nineteenth century France in which he lived and flourised. Bravo Danchev!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An elusive quarry Aug. 13 2014
By Wayne Dynes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the latest and fullest biography of this supremely great artist. The author seems to have read everything, and he sifts the contemporary evidence with a critical eye. And yet Cézanne remains elusive. To be sure, his life was relatively placid, lacking the drama of a Paul Gauguin or a Pablo Picasso. Benefiting from an almost lifelong subsidy from his father, Cézanne's work ethic was prodigious, blocking out almost everything else.

A half century ago, it was thought that the key to the artist was formal analysis: composition, color, and relation to the subjects depicted. Yet the early work in particular, full of dark romantic currents, suggests that this approach is insufficient. Nor can the artist be simply labeled the father of modern art, and leave it at that. He was this in some sense, but that does not seem the most important thing.

Elusive as he is, we must keep grippling with the sublime master of Aix - that splendid little town. This book helps us substantially in that task.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
impressively researched Cezanne biography Jan. 22 2013
By Ivor E. Zetler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Few would argue about the greatness and importance and influence of Cezanne's art. Alex Danchev presents a meticulously researched biography of a sometimes elusive subject. The detail and scope of the references are very impressive and help to build a rounded portrait of the artist and the era that he lived in. While John Rewald's liberally illustrated biography of the artist remains important, I would suggest that Danchev would be the first choice. His writing, while lacking the facility of Hilary Spurling's brilliant portrait of Matisse, is clear and engaging. There are many smallish color reproductions of paintings that are discussed in the text. Warmly recommended.