How Cézanne’s Apples Turned Me into a Food Writer
An author, former editor, and storied restaurant critic recalls a turning point in her life.
Aug 31, 2021
Paul Cézanne turned me into a food writer.
But it was not for any of the reasons you might imagine.
In the late sixties, when I was a graduate student in art history, my professors were constantly dropping the names of restaurants near great monuments of art. I wrote them all down: the trattoria five minutes from Giotto’s murals in Assisi (“get the ribollita”), the bistro around the corner from Notre Dame that served fantastic choucroute, and the 500-year-old tofu specialist near Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji. And it was while studying Gustav Klimt that I first heard of Demel, Vienna’s venerable emporium of pastry.
The art historians I studied with also enjoyed deconstructing the many meals depicted in art. Together we devoured endless last suppers, along with the painted feasts of Bruegel, Vermeer, and Veronese. They discussed artists like Orozco and de Heem, who used food as both allegory and a means of illuminating ordinary life. And when one professor announced that his next lecture would be devoted to the food of Cézanne, I could hardly wait.
Ruth Reichl received a master’s in history of art in 1970, and went on to become the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times, the restaurant critic of the New York Times, and the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.
Cézanne Drawing, organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, and Samantha Friedman, Associate Curator, with Kiko Aebi, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, is on view at MoMA through September 25, 2021.
A Guide to Cézanne’s Mark-Making and Materials
Explore the artist’s visual vocabulary through a detailed look at his techniques.
Kiko Aebi, Laura Neufeld, Samantha Friedman, Jodi Hauptman
Jun 21, 2021
The Beauty and Life of Materiality: On Cézanne’s Drawings
Read an exclusive excerpt from the exhibition catalogue Cézanne Drawing, about the artist who wanted to “astonish Paris with an apple.”
Jun 10, 2021