Press Release  January 22, 2018

American and European Modern Masters Featured in Two Exclusive Exhibitions at Princeton University Art Museum

Courtesy Princeton University Art Museum

Jean Négulesco, Romanian-American, 1900–1993. Still Life, 1926. Oil on cardboard on wood panel. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired by 1930.

The Artist Sees Differently: Modern Still Lifes from The Phillips Collection and Landscapes Behind Cézanne open this winter

PRINCETON, N.J. – Innovative works by great modern artists – including Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Milton Avery – will be included in two exhibitions opening this winter at the Princeton University Art Museum.

The Artist Sees Differently: Modern Still Lifes from The Phillips Collection offers an analysis of modernist still life through 38 paintings from the landmark collection assembled by Duncan Phillips and his wife, the artist Marjorie Acker Phillips. The paintings on view – many of them rarely seen masterworks of modern art – provide entrée to a period in which artists sought new aesthetic strategies that responded to a rapidly changing world.

The Artist Sees Differently will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition’s only venue, from Jan. 27 through Apr. 29, 2018.

When it first opened to the public in 1921, the Phillips Collection became the first museum of modern art in the United States. In 1928 a small selection of its masterpieces was lent to Princeton “in order to exemplify the plans and hopes” for the modern collections the university’s art museum intended to build.

In their quest to create a new art suited to new times, many late 19th- and early 20th-century artists rejected the official hierarchies of the French Academy, which privileged epic narratives of history, mythology and religion, and chose instead to paint still lifes – depictions of the humble objects of daily life, and traditionally considered the lowliest of genres. Still life provided artists with new means of experimenting with pattern and abstraction and investigating the tensions between the reality beyond the frame and the complex visual structures within it. As such, still-life painting afforded such artists with new means for pushing the boundaries of painting. Moving into the twentieth century, avant-garde painters continued to rethink and disrupt their relationship to the past as they attempted to create work relevant in a world transformed by technology, new media and ultimately, two world wars.

Among the artists exploring radical new approaches to space, brushstroke and drawing was Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), whose work also figures in Landscapes Behind Cézanne, curated by the Princeton University Art Museum’s John Elderfield, who is Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Distinguished Curator and Lecturer, with Calvin Brown, associate curator of prints and drawings. This intimate exhibition will be on view from Feb. 24 through May 13, 2018; Princeton is its only venue.

Courtesy Princeton University Art Museum

Paul Cézanne, Pine Tree in Front of the Caves above Château Noir, ca. 1900. Watercolor and graphite on cream wove paper. Princeton University Art Museum. Anonymous gift

Cézanne is widely acknowledged to have transformed landscape painting, most radically in his late watercolors. These works do not so much attempt to depict the actual appearance of a scene as to translate it into self-sufficient sequences of patches and lines of a restricted range of vivid colors. This installation juxtaposes Cézanne’s work with landscapes drawn, printed or painted by earlier artists. The resulting dialogue between images both reveals the extent to which Cézanne employed standard types of landscape depictions – close-up views, woodland panoramas, rocky landscapes, wide vistas, landscapes with buildings – but also suggests how Cézanne goes further, explicitly acknowledging that what is real in art is different and independent from what is experienced in nature. It is not, therefore, an exhibition about causalities, but rather a profound way of illuminating the path of Cézanne’s investigation.

“The vision of these path-breaking European and American artists of the modern era richly reward our close consideration a century later,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “We are delighted to partner with the Phillips Collection in exploring both the formal vocabularies of art and the ways in which it responded to broad cultural and political shifts through new visual and formal means.”

The Artist Sees Differently: Modern Still Lifes from The Phillips Collection has been organized by The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum. This exhibition at Princeton has been made possible with generous support from the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; and William S. Fisher, Class of 1979, and Sakurako Fisher through the Sakana Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; Betty Wold Johnson, through the Robert Wood Johnson III Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Barbara and Gerald Essig; the Rita Allen Foundation; and the Partners of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Landscapes Behind Cézanne has been made possible by the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Curatorial Leadership Fund.

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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