- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First edition (October 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520257456
- ISBN-13: 978-0520257450
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,608,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cézanne's Other: The Portraits of Hortense First Edition
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“Susan Sidlauskas's Cézanne's Other is a brilliant and original study of the artist's series of representations of his wife, Hortense Fiquet. Rejecting clichéd arguments about 'depersonalization,' Sidlauskas affirms human idiosyncrasy and uniqueness through the potency of pictorial invention. Sidlauskas's study, both incisive and wide-ranging, makes us re-think such terms as 'resemblance,' 'recognition,' 'mimesis', and 'subjecthood' andthe entire notion of the portrait itself in relation to Cézanne's endless variations on the theme of Mme. Cézanne. This is an important addition both to Cézanne studies and the investigation of portraiture in general.”―Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts
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Susan Sidlauskas examines quite a few of the portraits, analyzing them stroke by stroke, and tracing Cézanne's artistic influences as far back as classical Roman sculpture. Cézanne violated every tradition of portraiture by creating a different Mme. Cézanne in every portrait. His aims were very different than faithfully capturing resemblance. Sidlauskas makes a convincing case for what those aims were.
Cézanne was familiar with the philosophical thought of his age. The author believes he used the portraits of Mme. Cézanne to explore emerging concepts of the fluidity of the self. Sidlauskas also does a beautiful job of explaining the contradictory messages of distance and intimacy in the portraits. Her discussion of how Cézanne used color to express emotion is especially impressive.
I was less in accord with the author's theories about the androgynous quality of the portraits. Mme. Cézanne always impresses me as being pure woman, the woman her husband could never quite figure out. But see what you think!
The color reproductions in this book are gorgeous, but I kept wishing more of the reproductions were in color. I should warn you that this is a very scholarly book, well written, but dense with analysis, theorizing and allusions to art history and philosophy. The book was a little beyond my brain, but I read it straight through for the many brilliant insights embedded in the heavy scholarship.
Highly recommended, for serious appreciators of Cézanne.
She also provides a reasonable summary of Hortense's life although frankly there's not much to go on and the temptation for speculation is not always contained -- mostly reasonable and convincing, but still...She also does a nice job of situating the works in what is known of his life, a difficult task because Cezanne did not date his paintings. She also tries to fit his work into various theories based on late 19th century psychology and aesthetic theory. She emphasizes a feminist approach which I found appealing, but I felt that much of the prose was difficult and post-modern in the worst meaning of that term -- in other words virtually incomprehensible to those not in the club. I might say that I'm very familiar with lots of post-modern theories, so it's not as if I didn't have a fighting chance. Hence a lackluster 5 stars --maybe 4.5.
I would say that this is not an ideal book for people who know little about the art of the time or Cezanne, even if they find the portraits fascinating. They'd learn a lot but not find it easy going, I suspect. However for those with more background and a bit of courage this is sui generis.. Personally I find the portraits endlessly fascinating (and I've seen most of them live so to speak), and although I don't agree with some of her ideas nor understand many others despite a careful reading, I found this to be a valuable source -- glad I bought it.