Cezanne at the Courtauld Gallery

Went to see an interesting exhibit recently at the Courtauld Gallery on the Strand. What I liked about it was that instead of just showing the paintings themselves, they built a whole exhibition around the artist’s process for these particular paintings, showing his preliminary sketches, talking about his ideas and motivations, etc.

The permanent collection, too, was worth a visit. For a small museum it has some famous paintings, like Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere and Van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. With the latter I was surprised when I looked at it up close to see some of the colours he’d used in his own face – orange, green, yellow, etc. I knew the painting but had never looked at the detail so much, and was amazed at how many different colours he used, many of which I would never have thought belonged on a human face!

I was also interested in Kokoschka’s Market in Tunis, a panoramic scene which had a curved horizon reminiscent of a photograph with a wide-angle camera. Erich Heckel’s Seated Female Nude was quite disturbing but brilliant. And I also liked Francis Bacon’s Crouching Figures, which was paired with Honore Daumier’s Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

The Cezanne exhibition runs until 16 January, but I’d recommend a visit any time to see the permanent collection. If you’re cheap like me, you can get free entry on Mondays before 2pm!

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