CLEVELAND, Ohio – A handful of acquisitions joined the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art in December, including a watercolor by Paul Cézanne and a massive mosaic work by contemporary American artist Rashid Johnson.
Three sculptures from the “Lynch Fragments” series, by Melvin Edwards, another contemporary American artist, also joined the collection.
The museum characterized the works of Johnson and Edwards, both black, as part of its “commitment to diversify its collections”.
Cézanne’s watercolor completes the museum’s collection of works by the artist, including three landscapes in oil on canvas, as well as two lithographs and two drawings.
Cézanne is considered a central figure in modern art history who sought to endow the Impressionist style with a sense of gravity and solidity, rather than focusing on capturing the ephemeral effects of light. and time.
The watercolor, entitled “Path in the woods”, represents a path in the middle of chestnut forests on the Jas de Bouffan estate in Aix in the south of France, a property that Cézanne inherited from his father, and where he lived and painted for decades.
Dated 1882 to 1884, the watercolor comes from a pivotal period in which Cézanne moved from the thick paint and turgid brush of his early career to lighter colors and a method of building solid shapes with layers of directional lines resembling tiles in a mosaic.
The watercolor reflects a way of seeing in which Cézanne seems to reconstruct nature through solid shapes sketched in pencil and brushed in transparent planes of color, separated by blank areas of paper.
“This experimental approach allowed Cézanne to question vision itself as if to suggest that seeing happens as much through absence as through presence,” the museum said in its press release.
The museum plans to exhibit the drawing in an upcoming exhibition on French drawings from its collection, which will open on January 20, 2023.
Johnson’s mosaic and multimedia work, titled “Broken Men Standing,” depicts an abstract, fractured figure staring at the viewer with wide-eyed eyes.
Completed in 2021, the work is in addition to the four works by Johnson already held by the museum. It “can be interpreted as a poignant reflection on the time in which it was made, defined by a global pandemic and increased consideration of racial inequalities,” the museum said in its press release.
The Johnson, which measures nearly 8 feet tall by over 6 feet wide, was donated to the museum by Cleveland native and philanthropist Agnes Gund and will be on display in the museum’s contemporary galleries in March.
Edwards’ pieces, titled “Long Term (1980), ”” In Lusaka (1982), ” and “Miliki (1987),” are part of a “Lynch Fragments”, an ongoing series, which the artist started in 1963.
They “encourage consideration of the violence and destruction caused by racism in and beyond American society,” the museum said, but should not be taken literally as depictions of scenes. narratives or recognizable images.
Instead, the museum said, they suggest violence through welded assemblies of chains, knives and railroad spikes that create sculptural forms reminiscent of Western modernist sculpture, jazz, and traditions of the African metallurgy.