Cezanne, Murder, and Modern Life5stars



Savvy, Complex Read – Well Worth the Reader’s Diligence and Time

By Andre Dombrowski

University of California Press, 60.00, 310 pages

“The viewer has intruded upon a scene she never wished to see. There is nothing but a bleak bedroom with a bed and heavy curtains. A man-young, powerful, relentlessly-strangles a woman,” begins Andre Dombrowski Cezanne, Murder, and Modern Life, a book which portrays Paul Cezanne’s early impressionistic paintings during the 1850’s full of murder, sexual violence (mainly towards women), and the dark, fragile, uncertainty of the modern urban age. Cezanne’s The Strangled Woman,The Murder, The Abduction, crosses the boundaries of the popular culture with raw paintings depicting the exploitation of violence and crime often read in the daily newspaper. Painters like Paul Cezanne were part of the catalyst of change, whose work would eventually become a precurser to Cubism.

Dombrowski’s scholarly text offers the reader an intelligent, psychological, and well-researched book on early impressionism in Paris. Dombrowski delves deeply into the mind set of French Modernism involving “Le culte du moi,” during the 1850’s-1860’s, and it’s effect on Manet and Cezanne as well as the France’s leading novelists, poets, and musicians of the day. Dombrowski dominant theme is the comparison of Cezanne’s rival, Claude Manet, who painted romanticized, impersonal, and often pretentious versions of realism. Cezanne, who hated impersonality in paintings, often adapts a more modern version of Manet’s work with Cezannes deeply subjective version of Manet’s A Modern Olympia, Dejeuner sur l’herbe, Portrait of Zola. With Cezanne offering a nihilistic view of humanity where there was no God, no humanity, only innate drives.

Reviewed by Sheila Erwin
Cezanne, Murder, and Modern Life(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)
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