While a team of curators begins to finalize their installation plans and conservators prepare to examine works of art arriving from around the world, another group of individuals at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is also gearing up for Cézanne and Beyond, the major international loan exhibition opening February 26, 2009. These weekend and weekday Museum guides have already logged countless hours of research as they prepare to guide visitors through the exhibition — visitors they hope will leave feeling enlightened and inspired.
“Our guides in essence hold the keys both to our fine collection and to special exhibitions like this one,” said Joseph J. Rishel, the Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting before 1900 who organized Cézanne and Beyond. “They help us tell visitors exactly why the works we exhibit are so significant, and some of the symbols and stories behind them. It’s hard to imagine a great exhibition without our beloved guides. They are great communicators.”
To date, some 80 guides have signed on to lead tours through the landmark exhibition. These devoted volunteers come from towns including:-Ambler, Pa.
-Cherry Hill, N.J.
-Elkins Park, Pa.
-Huntington Valley, Pa.
-Lafayette Hill, Pa.
-Washington Crossing, Pa.
-West Chester, Pa.
-Woolwich Township, N.J.
The guides are working closely with Rishel as they prepare to introduce visitors to the powerful works of Cézanne and the generations of successors he inspired. Museum visitors come from around the corner and around the world. Tour groups also scheduled to visit from The Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, N.J., the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, the Bucknell Club of Philadelphia, the Glassboro (N.J.) Senior Citizens Center and adult education classes, Main Line School Night, among others. Each group will be led through the exhibition by a well-versed and dedicated guide.
The weekday guides are attending six, three-hour study sessions, which started in December, to prepare for their presentations. “Our study sessions are so useful that we often see Museum staff members standing in the back, listening and learning along with us,” said Jean Kiernan of Doylestown, Pa., weekday guide coordinator for Cézanne and Beyond.
Some of the weekday guides are writing papers about the paintings, and have been working at home and in libraries since early September. Gladys Cohen of Devon, Pa., drove to Lancaster’s Demuth Foundation in pursuit of additional research on Charles Demuth (1883-1935), an extraordinary Pennsylvania artist who was much inspired by Cézanne and is represented in the exhibition. “I discovered that Demuth was very familiar with Cézanne’s watercolors and very much inspired by the transparency and freshness of his colors—both artists leave a lot of white on the page and then work into it,” she said. “Demuth was also very impressed by the architecture of Cézanne’s work, and strove to imitate his precision.”
Cohen and the other weekday guides will share their research and learn from each other's findings. The weekend guides are taking a comparative approach, exploring the creative dialogue between works by Cézanne and the 18 other artists in the exhibition. “What I’ve found astounding about Cézanne’s art is that a century after his death, it continues to resonate with today’s artists as well as the public,” said Emma Keene, a Cézanne and Beyond weekend guide coordinator from Washington Crossing, Pa. “Even more surprising, it was not until the end of his life that the art world began to acknowledge his genius.”
Once training is complete, Rishel will walk the guides through the exhibition, and all 80 guides will be ready to lead public tours through Cézanne and Beyond.GUIDED TOURS
Individuals: 9 a.m. on select days starting March 5
$36 ($30 members)
Museum Guides lead visitors through the exhibition crowd-free in this one-hour tour of the exhibition. Price includes Cézanne and Beyond ticket and Museum admission.
For information or to book, call (215) 235-SHOW (7469) or visit philamuseum.org.
Groups: Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. (last tour at 10:30 a.m.); Saturdays and Sundays, 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. (last tour at 9:30 a.m.)
$32 per person
Special private group tours and cultural packages for groups of 15 or more. Visitors view the exhibition crowd-free before the Museum opens. Price includes Museum admission.
For information or to book, call (215) 684-7863 or visit philamuseum.org/groupvisits.
About Cézanne and Beyond
Cézanne and Beyond (February 26-May 17, 2008) will present some 150 works, including 60 paintings, watercolors and drawings by Cézanne, along with those of 18 later artists for whom Cézanne has been a central inspiration and whose work reflects his extraordinary legacy. Philadelphia is the only venue for this major exhibition celebrating the continuing impact of the artist whom Pablo Picasso called “my one and only master.”
Among the all-star artists whose work will be featured in context with Cézanne are Max Beckmann, Georges Braque, Pierre Bonnard, Charles Demuth, Alberto Giacometti, Arshile Gorky, Marsden Hartley, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Fernand Léger, Brice Marden, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Liubov Popova, and Jeff Wall.. The works will be drawn from public and private collections around the world. The exhibition will survey the development of an artistic vision that anticipated Cubism and fueled a succession of artistic movements, and will juxtapose Cézanne’s achievement with works by many who were inspired directly by him, showing a fluid interchange of form and ideas.
Advance tickets for timed entry to Cézanne and Beyond may be purchased at the Museum or by calling (215) 235-SHOW (9 a.m. until 5 p.m.) or via the Museum’s website at www.philamuseum.org (phone and online orders are subject to a $3 per ticket non-refundable service charge). Tickets are free of charge to Museum members.
Cézanne and Beyond is made possible by ADVANTA.
Additional funding is provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Exhibitions, The Florence Gould Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications, the National Endowment for the Arts, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Promotional support provided by NBC 10 WCAU; the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com; the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation; and Amtrak.