Milk Can and Apples, 1879-80
Oil on canvas
19 3/4 x 24 inches
William S. Paley Collection
Museum of Modern Art
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — In an exchange of works with the Museum of Modern Art, Vassar College's Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is exhibiting the Paul Cézanne painting Milk Can and Apples, through May 14. The masterful Cézanne still life is on short-term loan to the Art Center while the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibits The Seine at St. Cloud, an 1890 painting by Edvard Munch, and a prize work in the Art Center's permanent collection.
Art Center curator Mary-Kay Lombino said, "This is a rare opportunity to see mature work by a genius of Post-Impressionism. In this one hundredth anniversary year of Cézanne's death, the presentation of this significant painting is a way to pay homage to the painter and celebrate his important contribution to the history of art."
Cézanne painted Milk Can and Apples after leaving Paris to return to Aix-en-Provence, his native town in the south of France. There, he devoted himself to portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes. Wishing to make something (in his own words), "solid and durable, like the art of the museums" out of Impressionism, the post-Impressionist Cézanne sought out the structural regularity of his subjects. By repeating the round and angular shapes in Milk Can and Apples, the artist demonstrated his formalist approach. The arrangement of objects is seen on one of his characteristic tilted tables; it appears to slope forward slightly from a slab-like base beneath it.
Cézanne's use of geometric form and disjointed perspective made him an inspiration to Pablo Picasso. His paintings are considered a vital bridge between the Impressionist and Cubist movements of the early twentieth century and he won the respect of other painters, but Cézanne did not achieve widespread esteem during his lifetime.
Art Center director James Mundy is gratified to bring Milk Can and Apples to Vassar and the Mid-Hudson Valley. "While we frequently lend works to other museums, it underscores the depth and quality of our own permanent collection when we can exchange with MOMA for a loan of this stature," he said. "We were particularly fortunate during this Cézanne centenary, when his works are in such high demand around the world."
Through May 8, MOMA is featuring Munch's The Seine at St. Cloud in the exhibition Edvard Munch: The Modern Life of the Soul, and the painting is also featured in the exhibition catalogue. This is the first retrospective devoted to the work of the internationally renowned Norwegian painter, printmaker, and draftsman to be held in an American museum in almost three decades.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. The Lehman Loeb Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 16,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college's inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American twentieth century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections.
Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson Valley cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and Olana, the Frederic Edwin Church home. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, the public may call 845-437-5632 or go to the Art Center's website, http://fllac.vassar.edu.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.