Lecture: ‘Sit like an apple’: painting people as if they were things

30 November 2017, 19:00

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £8 (£7 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Boy in a Red Waistcoat, 1888-90 by Paul Cézanne.
National Gallery of Art, Washington. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1995.47.5

Cézanne said that the apples in his still lives were ‘gentlemen’ who liked having ‘their portraits painted’, and they sometimes appear quite animated, as if they were little people.  Conversely, it has been argued that the faces in his portraits lack human character and expression, and look more like inert things.  Drawing on theories of perception Professor Paul Smith, University of Warwick, examines these claims, and  attempts to explain why Cézanne painted portraits, and apples, in the peculiar way he did.

Professor Paul Smith has taught in the History of Art department at Warwick since 2005. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, a visiting scholar and a scholar at the Getty Research Institute. Paul studied for his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art under the supervision of Robert Ratcliffe, the eminent but obscure Cézanne scholar. Before that, he took his undergraduate degree at University College London, where he was taught aesthetics by the philosopher, Richard Wollheim. Both have had a lasting influence on his research.Paul works mostly on later nineteenth-century French painting, and the theories that help explain it. He is also interested in the literature of the period, particularly recherché novels about art.

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