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Graduate Research Seminar: Cézanne’s Homosocial World, from the Bathers to the Cardplayers

Dr Satish Padiyar (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

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Jan 23, 2013
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM


History of Art Graduate Centre, 4a Trumpington Street

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The games art historians and art writers have played with the name ‘Cézanne’ are legion and yet inexhaustible: Cézanne has succeeded in keeping us still guessing. This is also the case with the theme of sex and sexual identity: for this artist they were open-ended and always in a state of flux. Between the fleshy worlds of Cézanne’s male bather series and the insistently male enclave world of smokers and card players there is both a structural and a political relationship.  In this paper, I want to revisit the subject of the poetics of homoerotic desire within the notionally ‘pure’ modernist oeuvre of Cézanne; and to think his Smokers and Cardplayers paintings as offering a homoerotic image of ‘the good’. Politically, it is the post-Second World War political philosophy and phenomenology of Hannah Arendt (beyond that of  Merleau-Ponty) that might open out a new understanding of what was at stake in the building of a homosocial enclave within Cézanne’s worldly canvases.

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