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Cézanne: A life Hardcover – 18 Oct 2012
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This is the best account of [Cézanne's] astonishing career and Danchev responds to the challenge with great sensitivity and genuine brio. This is a book which will survive the test of time. (John Golding CBE, Emeritus Professor of the Royal Academy)
A brave new life of Cézanne. . . Danchev's masterstroke is to use literature rather than art as his point of entry . . . Adds an important tranche of material to the Cezanne biography . . . much of this new material successfully illuminates Cezanne's inner life. An important book. (Waldemar Januszczak Sunday Times)
This is a great book - possibly the best - on one of the most respected impressionists. (Bookseller)
Alex Danchev compellingly guides us through Paul Cezanne's much mythologized life from his over-bearing father and early days in the South, as a school friend of Emile Zola, to his position as one of the revered creators of modern painting. The development of Cezanne's thinking and the construction of his paintings are explored alongside his complex relationship with other painters and the Parisian art establishment. Danchev has a great ability to weave his research and analysis into a compelling narrative: understanding what was required for Cezanne to make art modern. (Sandy Nairne, National Portrait Gallery)
A fantastically multidimensional Cézanne. . . . reads much like . . . one of Paul Cézanne's paintings . . . Mr. Danchev's portrait of Cezanne's life is heavy, thick with deceptively simple detail, and unendingly rich in offering context and detail for the reader to make sense of what contexts surrounded Cézanne, how Cezanne understood himself, and how the surrounding artistic milieu and climate informed Cezanne's paintings . . . Cezanne, A Life is a compelling and well-written biography of an enduring, enigmatic and complex figure in the changing world of turn-of-the-20th-century modernist art. (Dr Lydia Pyne New York Journal of Books 2012-10-16)
Original, engaging and highly persuasive . . . his prose is witty, mobile and sensitive (Julian Bell Guardian 2012-10-20)
Danchev introduces a fresh tone into the debates about this artist . . . a stimulating tapestry of ideas . . . More ambitious, more brilliant and more discursive, it has a lively, consistently interrogative authorial voice; it draws upon a rich hinterland of cultural knowledge; it makes interventions into the massive historiography on Cézanne, challenging some scholars, affirming others. It repeatedly dazzles . . . the reach of this book is unlikely ever be surpassed in the search for Cézanne. Danchev is not only a formidable historian; he is also closely attentive to the dynamics in any relationship . . . This book, which makes a major contribution to our understanding of this haunting figure, is enhanced by three fat wads of colour reproductions and made more seductive by the photographs of artists that infiltrate the text. (Frances Spalding Independent 2012-10-27)
Richly documented. . . its rewards are many . . . Danchev's biography has a lightness as it avoids academic jargon and journeys into Cézanne's work with admirers who devoted serious thought to it. (David D'Arcy San Francisco Chronicle 2012-11-05)
Mr Danchev's exhaustive research, not least of Zola's novels, provides a much fuller explanation of the man, which helps elucidate the art . . . many will be enthralled, inspired and perhaps even comforted by this book (John McEwan Country Life 2012-11-14)
Enlightening . . . Accomplished and subtle (Michael Prodger Mail on Sunday 2012-11-18)
It would be virtually impossible for anyone now to get back behind the wrong eyes, and the great strength of Alex Danchev's book is that it doesn't try. This is a biography for an age that takes Cézanne's supreme clarity, balance and pictorial logic for granted. Far from putting him back in the context he came from, it explores his relations with a world he shaped. Its cultural references range from Socrates to Wallace Stevens, Kafka to Beckett, Chaplin to Woody Allen . . . moving (Hilary Spurling Daily Telegraph 2012-11-17)
A perceptive judge of pictures as well as a skilled narrator, Mr. Danchev excels at dissecting Cézanne's idiosyncratic, analytical approach to the depiction of nature, which eventually paved the way for the innovations of Cubism and modernist abstraction. Abundant color plates and exhaustive documentation round out this magisterial biography. (Jonathan Lopez Wall Street Journal 2012-11-16)
Triumphant (Peter Conrad Observer 2012-12-02)
FT Art Books of the Year: The most engrossing biography of an artist that I have read for years. With lightness of touch, depth of thought, a vast cultural hinterland and an assured understanding of painting, Danchev marvellously brings to life Cézanne the man, as well as the pioneering artist called "the father of us all" by Picasso. (Jackie Wullschlager FT 2012-12-01)
Marvellous (Frank Whitford Sunday Times 2012-12-02)
Art Books of Year: Notable among recent studies of arists (Michael Prodger Guardian 2012-12-01)
A new view of an old subject ... an impressive achievement (Christian House Independent on Sunday 2012-12-02)
Danchev's parameters are the work, the principles, the life, the art, the viewer, the reader. He writes as if he doesn't really need the century of critics, academics and theorists who have previously explained the painter ... Danchev's self-confidence is evident, and fully justified (TLS)
An enchanting literary exercise... exquisite in style... romantic, intense, affectionate and occasionally wry... a masterpiece. (Brian Sewell Evening Standard 2012-12-20)
Superb (Michael Prodger Standpoint 2012-12-01)
Danchev's Cézanne has... virtues of imaginative sympathy, independence of mind, and wide scholarship. He writes as if Cézanne's life and character are as immediately present before him as is the art (Julian Barnes TLS 2012-12-21)
Engaging and well-researched (Frederick Brown LRB 2013-03-21)
Magisterial ... Thanks to this wholly engrossing - and liberating - new life of the artist, we are made to feel closer to him than ever before. (Richard Verdi Burlington Magazine 2013-03-01)
...serious, learned, and far-ranging (Australian Book Review 2013-03-01)
A remarkable new biography of a cultural iconSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
'At the core of the Cezannian revolution is a decisive shift in the emphasis of observation, from a description of the thing apprehended to the process of apprehension itself. Cezanne insisted that he painted things as they are, for what they are, as he saw them. The issue is what he saw - how he saw.'
Drawing extensively on the reactions of Cezanne's contemporaries and those who have ever since tried to understand his significance, Alex Danchev has, to my mind, written a profound and moving biography, and one that is worthy of its subject.
There's too much talk around the artist and too little about him. Also an excess of scholarly name dropping
and unnecessary, lengthy quotations.
For someone coming to the artist for the first time this is not the book. My personal favourite is John Rewald,s, the first I read,
and possible the best at creating a convincing portrait of the great man.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this so much. Almost like rubbing shoulders with this man... And feeling a sense of empathy for him! Such is the power of this writer!Published on 13 Jun. 2014 by Wonky
I bought this book to look at his paintings but not a lot in this book. I've only read a chapter but find it very interesting. Read morePublished on 1 May 2013 by Alison