University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 4/1996
Researching Cezanne's world

     While thousands of people flocked to the Philadelphia Museum
of Art this summer to view the only U.S. stop of a stunning
exhibition of works by Paul Cezanne, Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer,
UD professor of art history, was journeying back in time to
research Cezanne's world in Paris and Aix-en-Provence where he
lived and worked.
     Her end result will be a book on the artist, Cezanne and the
Land: Regionalism and Modernity in Late 19th-century France,
scheduled for publication by the Princeton University Press in
     Athanassoglou-Kallmyer became keenly interested in the
artist after seeing a Cezanne exhibition in 1990 at the National
Gallery in Washington, D.C. Asked to participate in a panel
discussion by the gallery's Center for Advanced Study in the
Visual Arts, she discovered that her concept of Cezanne and his
relationships with society differed from those held by other
     "Cezanne commonly has been portrayed as somewhat isolated
from the social and cultural milieu of his day, but my research
has shown the opposite is true. He was connected to and aware of
the intellectual, social and artistic movements of the late 19th
century. He knew poets, writers, artists and politicians.
     "In my research, I am trying to reconstruct the cultural and
social background of his life, which illuminates his paintings in
a different way," Athanassoglou-Kallmyer explains.
     Born in 1839, Cezanne studied painting with a local artist
before going to Paris, where he knew and exhibited with the
Impressionists, such as Manet and Pisarro. As he matured, he
moved away from Impressionism, evolving a style of his own, with
emphasis on structure and form, influencing other artists,
including Picasso and those in the Cubist movement. He returned
to Provence and continued painting landscapes, portraits and
still-lifes until his death in 1906.
     This past winter, in spite of a general strike in Paris that
crippled public transportation and other public services,
Athanassoglou-Kallmyer carried out her research, walking miles to
do so. This summer, she continued her work there, traveling to
Aix-en-Provence to visit the artist's studio and home and the
sites of his paintings and conducting further research in local
     To carry out her current research, she received a
prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for a two-year sabbatical leave
from the University. Only 158 scholars, artists and scientists
received Guggenheim awards this year, from 2,791 applicants
nationwide. The awards are based on "unusually distinguished
achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future
      Athanassoglou-Kallmyer was in Philadelphia in early June to
participate in a three-day international symposium, "The Art and
Influence of Paul Cezanne," held at the Museum of Art in
conjunction with its exhibit. More than 20 scholars from around
the world, including art specialists from the Musee d'Orsay in
Paris and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, took part in
the symposium, and gave different perspectives on the artist and
his times.
     Athanassoglou-Kallmyer's topic was "Cezanne's Land: Ideology
and the End of Time," an interpretation of how the artist's
landscapes reflect the timelessness, as well as the history, of
his native Provence.
                                           -Sue Swyers Moncure