With “The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne,” The Barnes Foundation brings to life a classic artistic genre.
Paul Cézanne’s Apples and Cakes will be the centerpiece of the Barnes’s exhibit.
“I will astonish Paris with an apple,” French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne once famously declared, a prescient suggestion from the dynamic artist who would become known for portraying the simplest subjects with high-art sensibilities. Decades later, the “painter of apples,” with his humble materials—tablecloths, vases, and, of course, fruit—continues to “astonish” audiences the world over with his extraordinary renderings of ordinary life.
The Barnes Foundation plans to astonish Philadelphia when it presents “The World Is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne,” opening June 22. The exhibit features a career-spanning collection of 21 of the artist’s still lifes and is the first major mounting focusing exclusively on his nature morte works.
“In 1912—the first year that Albert Barnes was collecting—he bought a Cézanne at auction,” says Judith Dolkart, chief curator at the Foundation, explaining the long-standing relationship between the artist’s work and the museum. “It really caused a ruckus in the sale room: People were saying, ‘Who is this Mr. Barnes, spending this kind of money on a Cézanne?’”
When considering the exhibition, which will run through September 22, Dolkart calls Cézanne one of the Barnes’s “core artists.” His contributions to the modernist canon engage with the complex questions of the age. “He’s a painter who makes you very aware of the materiality of paint,” she says. “In the past, you weren’t really supposed to see the means of creating the work. It was supposed to be completely seamless, but he shows it to you. So Cézanne is not only core here in terms of the numbers of his works, but he was an important figure for so many artists who followed.”
The exhibition features additional paintings like The Kitchen Table (1888-1890), Three Skulls (1902-1906), and Apples and Cakes (1837-1877). “Still life itself traditionally wasn’t considered the noblest or most elevated of the genres, and an apple is just about the humblest kind of prop that you could use in a still-life,” Dolkart muses. “It would be great if Cézanne astonishes Philadelphia with an apple.” 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pky., 215-278-7200