“Cézanne came, saw and conquered”

A conversation in Budapest with Denis Coutagne, president of the Paul Cézanne Association

MúzeumCafé 36.

What’s the connection between a tiny Cézanne sketch and the loan of a Bernini statue? Did modernity in painting began with Cézanne? MúzeumCafé spoke about these and other questions with Denis Coutagne, former director of the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence and president of the Paul Cézanne Association, who in January this year came to Budapest on the invitation of the Fine Arts Museum to give a presentation at a conference organised on the occasion of the Cézanne exhibition staged by the museum. As the French art historian asserted: “The Budapest exhibition was magnificent because it meditated on the place occupied by Cézanne in art history, making it unequivocal for all that Cézanne came, saw and conquered.” It was clear from the conversation that the Cézanne Association still faced many large tasks in the field of analysing the painter’s oeuvre. Denis Coutagne is a French art historian, Cézanne specialist, philosopher, writer on the arts and honorary chief museologist. He graduated in phi-losophy in 1972, then two years later won the Concours de recrutement des Conservateurs des Musées nationaux, that is the national museums curator competition. From 1977 he was director of the museum in Besançon and from 1980 to 2008 the director of the Granet Museum. As the leading organiser and president of the Paul Cézanne Association, Coutagne has devoted several memorable exhibitions to Cézanne, for example one in 2006 as co-curator of Cézanne in Provence, staged in Aix and Washington. In 2011 he organised Cézanne and Paris at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris.

The Cézanne Association was founded in 1998 and involves an international array of about 40 researchers, collectors and Cézanne specialists.