Cézanne's Bathers: Biography and the Erotics of Paint (Refiguring Modernism)

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9780271032146: Cézanne's Bathers: Biography and the Erotics of Paint (Refiguring Modernism)

Cézanne’s Bathers: Biography and the Erotics of Paint discusses an epochal shift in the representation of sexuality in modern art with the images of nudes made by Paul Cézanne. Cézanne was the first painter of the twentieth century who, through careful study of avant-garde precedents including Manet and Courbet, would transform the material qualities of his art into an erotics of paint—that is to say, an eroticization of medium, of the liquidity of paint and the resistance of the canvas, of the trembling of the contour, of the oiliness of the pigment, and of countless other painterly effects. By dislocating the erotics of his subject from the bodies he depicted and transposing it onto these formal qualities, Cézanne set the stage for the explorations of a number of later artists, including Henri Matisse, who saw in Cézanne the possibilities of the modern painting of the nude.

Cézanne’s Bathers: Biography and the Erotics of Paint proposes a new way of reading Cézanne’s biography not simply as a form of myth-making but also as a form of art criticism; at the same time, it proposes a reading of Cézanne’s images of bathers that accounts for their strangenesses and for the pleasures they produce. It is a book that is fiercely engaged with arguments about these paintings that have come before, mining the writings of figures such as Meyer Schapiro, Tamar Garb, and T. J. Clark to discover a new way of looking at these strange works.

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About the Author:

Aruna D'Souza is Assistant Professor of Art History at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She is the editor of Self and History: A Tribute to Linda Nochlin (2000) and The Invisible Flâneuse? Gender, Public Space, and Visual Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris (2006).

Review:

“An astute and original analysis of Cézanne’s key canvases, the Bathers, and through them, of the equally central issue in Cézanne scholarship, namely, the erotic dimension of his vision . . . a stimulating, truly provocative study.”

—Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Harvard University



“For the lay reader, Cézanne’s Bathers can be challenging at points, but it’s a rewarding look at how art history gets made and how a careful sifting through the available evidence leads to the revelation of new meanings.”

—Ann Landi, ARTnews



“These beautiful and elegantly complex volumes reconsider major figures in the development of 20th-century modernism. . . . While these volumes, like others in the series, may seem geared for the specialist, their value lies in their willingness to question, to use new evidence and new methods of addressing art history, and to forge new connections between disciplines. Patient readers will find these books can enliven and deepen their examination of art.”

—R.K. Dickson, Bloomsbury Review

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