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MONDAY, APRIL 16 , 2018










Ben Affleck? John Cusack?
Twitter has a few ideas for
who could play James B.
Comey on the big screen. C2

A widow needs to jettison
the guilt about why she
couldn’t fully fund her
son’s college education. C2

The NSO wrapped up the
Shift festival’s week of
invigorating and unusual
orchestral music. C3

A woman who says the
singer gave her a sexually
transmitted disease filed a
police complaint. C5



sour but sublime
At NGA show, unprejudiced eyes give you a glimpse of the honesty with which Cézanne shaped modern art



aul Cézanne was a stubborn, self-absorbed
grouch who spent his life in a rolling revolt
against urban elites. He hated insincerity, was
allergic to falseness, distrusted suavity, and fled
from even a whiff of like-mindedness.
Modern art would be unthinkable without him.
When Cézanne painted portraits — and his portraits are
the subject of a riveting show at the National Gallery of Art
(through July 1) — he didn’t want puffed-up professionals
or expert models schooled in the art of posing. He
preferred cloddish, authentic types. Good, rural folk who
were, in the words of the exhibition’s curator, John
Elderfield, “unselfconsciously heroic.”

Painting people as
no different from
fruit, Paul Cézanne
(subject of a
National Gallery of
Art show) created
riveting portraits of
his wife, Madame
Cézanne, above left,
and his uncle
Dominique, a court
bailiff, above right.

There are 60 paintings in the National Gallery show, the
first devoted to this crucial — if often baffling — aspect of
Cézanne’s oeuvre. They take us from the 1860s, when
Cézanne painted like a hormonal teenager head-butting
everything in sight, through the 1870s when, using first
himself, then his son, then Hortense Fiquet (later Madame
Cézanne) almost as scientific controls, he tried to adapt his
developing outdoor idiom to the demands of indoor
portraiture. In the 1880s and 1890s, his portraits became
as commanding and classic — and in some ways as
impenetrably odd — as the rest of his work.
If you don’t fall instantly in love with Cézanne’s
portraits, don’t worry. Only painters, in my experience,
truly love Cézanne. The rest of us, uncomprehending to the

A thriller from
Sara Shepard’s
assembly line

Trump’s cover
for a Mueller
firing: Fox News


For Richard Nixon, the
“Saturday Night Massacre”
was the beginning of the end.
The nation finally turned
against the embattled
president after he forced out
— on Oct. 20, 1973 — the
attorney general and his
deputy who refused to get rid
of the special prosecutor investigating him.
A week later, for the first time, a plurality
of Americans favored impeachment. And 10
months later, he resigned.
But Nixon didn’t have Fox News in his
President Trump does — and that might
make all the difference if he were to fire
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein
or even special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
The pro-Trump media, led by Fox, would
give cover, and huge swaths of Americans
would be encouraged to believe that the
action was not only justified but absolutely
You can see it coming.
Night after night — for many months —
Trump’s sycophant-in-chief, Sean Hannity,
has been softening the ground. And his
message is sinking in.
In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, three of
four Republicans said they believed the
Justice Department and the FBI are actively
working to undermine Trump.
“Hannity has been poisoning the well for

air of small-town naivete who says Cosby drugged
and raped her, painted as an opportunistic Internet-age entrepreneur capitalizing on the publicity
about the scandal. Her listing on a website called
Speaker Hub mentions contacting her regarding
her fee, says defense attorney Kathleen Bliss with a
disapproving “Aha!” edge to her voice.
Never heard of the site, Thomas says.
And here come the rest of the prosecution
witnesses, one after another, pounded by the
defense version of events in which they are supposedly angling for a piece of a nonexistent $100

In 2006, Sara Shepard published the
best-selling novel “Pretty Little Liars,” the
first in what would become one of the most
successful young-adult suspense series ever.
Eventually stretching out to 16 novels, the
“Pretty Little Liars” juggernaut followed the misad- BOOK
ventures of four teenage WORLD
wannabes who cope with
blackmail threats and
worse after their Queen
Bee mysteriously vanishes.
Think Bess and George
suddenly adrift without
Nancy Drew’s confident
stewardship and you have
something of the central
premise — if not the
naughty behavior and
menacing atmosphere — THE ELIZAS
that fuels this series. “Pret- By Sara Shepard
ty Little Liars” the novel Atria. 339 pp.
begot “Pretty Little Liars” $26
the television series, which
ran for seven seasons beginning in 2010. (A spinoff, “Pretty Little
Liars: The Perfectionists,” looms.)
All this is to say that Shepard is one of
those sublimely successful authors whose
books sell themselves. Her swarm of fans who
have come of age with “Pretty Little Liars” —
and Shepard’s many other YA novels — will
not be dissuaded from reading her new book,




Andrea Constand, center, a key witness in the Bill Cosby retrial, returns to court
Friday. The defense discussed Constand’s $3,380,000 settlement in 2006 with Cosby.

Cosby’s defense has a new message
for jurors: It’s all about the money


norristown, pa. — The love is gone from Bill
Cosby’s defense.
In the comedian’s first trial, he leaned on the
narrative of a spurned mistress, arguing that his
primary accuser, Andrea Constand, turned on him
after their consensual relationship fizzled. Now, as
Cosby’s retrial passes the one-week mark, the
defense strategy has clearly taken on a rougher
edge, painting Constand and other witnesses as
money-grubbing connivers.
Here is Heidi Thomas, a music teacher with an







APRIL 16 , 2018


The Reliable Source
Helena Andrews-Dyer and Emily Heil

Ate breakfast.
Perfectly executed
meal. Could not have had
a better result. Will never
be hungry again. Mission

Casting Comey:
Some favorites for FBI role


ow that reviews of former FBI
director James B. Comey’s muchanticipated book are finally out and
on your cable TV screen 24 hours a
day, the armchair casting of a movie version
of the real-life drama has begun. The idea of
a big-screen adaptation isn’t so far-fetched —
Comey is reportedly already mulling a

— Comedian and actor Michael Ian
Black, in a tweet mocking a similarly
worded boast by President Trump
about U.S. airstrikes in Syria this

Hollywood deal to secure the rights to his
memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and
Leadership,” which hits shelves on Tuesday.
The big question? Who should play the
guy President Trump famously fired, of
course. A few popular suggestions emerged
on Twitter (and, lordy, we hope there are
audition tapes!):

Vince Vaughn

Armie Hammer

Kyle Chandler

John Cusack

Ben Affleck

The “Wedding Crashers”
star actually does bear a
passing resemblance to
Comey. Plus he’s tall, making
him a top pick to play the
6-foot-8 former G-man.

At 31, he’s a little young to play
the 57-year-old. But he’s also
tall, and some on social media
pointed to his “experiences in
political movies,” such as the
2011 film “J. Edgar,” in which
he plays an FBI agent.

The guy best known for
playing Coach Taylor on
“Friday Night Lights” got
some votes. He has played
an FBI agent in “The Wolf of
Wall Street.”

We know the “Say Anything”
actor is a fan — during
Comey’s congressional
testimony last year, Cusack
tweeted that “Comey [is]
behaving how a president is
supposed to behave.”

So long as he covers that
unfortunate back tattoo, we
could see the “Argo” star in
the role. Plus, he has
testified before Congress in
real life, so that scene would
be a snap.



The sourest,
mouth in

degree that we don’t have brushes in our
hands, must content ourselves with
being in awe of him.
You may come away from the show, as I
did, with questions. Why, for instance, is
that man’s ear missing? Why is that
woman cross-eyed? Why are the hands
unfinished? And why, above all, after so
much looking, don’t I feel I know any of
these people?
These questions, pressed on, may open
trapdoors onto pitchy voids. But let your
eyes adjust, give the paintings the benefit
of your unprejudiced attention, and you
may come away with a feeling for the
ways in which Cézanne’s honesty, his
integrity and his ever-present doubt (the
quality Picasso most admired in him)
constitute one of the spiritual pilot lights
of modern culture.
Born and raised in Aix-en-Provence,
Cézanne died there, too. He made a great
show, when in Paris, of not wanting to be
polluted by the corrupt mores of Second
Empire Paris. Watching him eat with his
hands, Mary Cassatt remarked on his
“total disregard for the dictionary of
manners,” while admiring a deep level of
courtesy in him.
When, years earlier, on meeting the
debonair Édouard Manet, whose nonchalant but provocative painting Cézanne revered, Cézanne made a sardonic
show of declining to shake his hand,
because, he said, he hadn’t washed in
eight days. (I try to imagine Manet’s
response: Did he exchange amused, quizzical glances with his friends? Or did he
just shrug? Either way, I’m certain he
resolved to keep an eye on the sly
southern bumpkin.)
Cézanne was a loner. His disdain for
the smug sentimentality of urban sophisticates (he would have loathed today’s
hipsters), far from being incidental, is
somewhere near the core of his enterprise. When it came to portraiture, he
wasn’t going to fall into the usual cliches.
He rejected the sentimental fancy that
someone’s eyes might be a window to
their soul. He would neither promote the


Highlights of the National Gallery of Art’s Paul Cézanne show include a selfportrait, shown above, and striking paintings of his wife, Madame Cézanne.

sitter’s social status nor fall for the fad of
placing them in their natural habitat — a
businessman in his office, say, or a writer
in his study. (His only real attempt in this
vein, a portrait of the critic Gustave
Geffroy surrounded by books, was inspired by Degas’s portrait of Edmond
Duranty. He left it unfinished.)
Instead, he seemed to look around and
ask, “What honest work can be done
here?” And from there, he set to it.
His earliest portraits are charged by a
sense of the hard labor involved in their
making. Made with palette knives rather
than brushes, they have the gloopy textures of cake frosting. Yet there is surpris-

A widow’s
feelings of guilt

from life insurance and Social Security
from his father. My husband didn’t have
life insurance, and I used most of the
Social Security money for necessities
while my son was small.
My son didn’t say this as an
accusation, but just asked me why he
doesn’t have that money. I explained that
I needed that money for expenses and
such. I think he gets it.
His roommate’s mother is a lawyer. I’m
sure she was able to give him everything
he wanted and banked the Social
Security checks. I’m feeling guilty and
defensive about this. What do you think?
— Awkward

Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My

husband died when our
son was 18 months old.
We always had the basics
— I made sure of that —
but we both went without
a lot of the extras. My son
just started college and his random
roommate assignment happens to be a
boy whose father also died when he was
young. We thought this was random and
kind of good, since my son doesn’t know
that many people who this happened to.
Last week, my son brought up that his
roommate’s college is entirely paid for

ing nuance in their construction. Certain
effects — the bulge and sheen of a brow,
the way the shadow under an eye meets
the outline of a cheek — are bravura, and
anticipate the almost geological painterliness of portraits by Lucian Freud and
Frank Auerbach.
The most persuasive of them is a series
of brutish portraits of Cézanne’s uncle
Dominique, a court bailiff. Dominique
donned various costumes for these pictures — a turban, a lawyer’s cravat, a
monk’s habit — so that, despite their feral
appearance, they tap into a playful spirit
that links them with Rembrandt and,
more recently, Manet.


Awkward: I think it’s totally
understandable, but you’re being
unfairly tough on yourself. The
unthinkable happened before you and
your husband purchased life insurance.
That’s it. And while I suppose you can
beat yourself up for being irresponsible
in that one specific way, I wouldn’t even
agree with that criticism.
People tend to think about life
insurance once they have kids, ergo,

After this, the brutishness and playfulness both vanish. The show has clear
standouts, among a few works that can
seem undercooked. They include “Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair”; a
self-portrait from London; the four huge,
tilted portraits of Madame Cézanne in a
red dress; the insouciant “Boy in a Red
Waistcoat”; “Woman with a Cafetière”;
“Man in a Blue Smock”; and the celebrated portrait of Ambroise Vollard.
But my own favorites are the four
small-format portraits of Madame
Cézanne, painted in 1885-86. In two of
them, she looks directly at us. In the
others, she looks down and away. There is
an ambient tenderness to all four.
But it is Cézanne’s treatment of
Hortense’s mouth — surely the sourest
and meanest in the history of portraiture
— that is truly riveting. Its slightly pursed
look and off-center placement make her
look beyond fed up.
Understandably, this has fueled more
than a century of stories about Madame
Cézanne and her cantankerous painter
husband. But what if they’re the wrong
stories? What if the received idea that
Madame Cézanne was either mean, or
put-upon, or both, is just our own,
shortsighted projection? What if psychologizing of this kind held no interest
at all for Cézanne?
My suspicion is that he cared nothing
for his wife’s expression, let alone for
what posterity would make of it, and
cared only about the challenge, on this
particular day and in this light, of capturing the thin shadow between her lips that
is strong on the right but disappears to
the left; that he fussed over how to
balance that dark line, tonally, with the
eye on the same side, which seemed
weirdly larger in the more penumbral
light. . . . And so on.
In his mature works, Cézanne goes to
great — you could say inhuman —
lengths to be objective. He wanted to
paint human presence on a par with an
apple’s presence; to bring out what D.H.
Lawrence called the “appleyness” in each
sitter. (The lovely term derives from
Vollard’s report after sitting for Cézanne:
“Do I have to tell you again you must sit
like an apple?” the painter vented. “Do
apples move?”)
In painting this appleyness, Cézanne,
wrote Lawrence, “was also deliberately
painting out” all that seemed false to
him: “the so-called humanness, the personality, the ‘likeness,’ the physical
I think that’s spot on. But where does it
leave us?
Cézanne’s success can be as hard to
stomach today as it was a century ago —

most people purchase it after said kids
are conceived, right? Therefore anyone
— literally, anyone — who thinks that
way can get caught exactly as you did.
Kid gets conceived; insurance need
arises; window opens for the father of
said child to die before policy is secured.
That window could be open for days,
months, years.
The death of someone young (right —
your husband was 40 or younger?) is still
unusual enough that people aren’t
necessarily thinking of life insurance at
24 or 31 or whatever.
The reason I’ve gone to such lengths to
explain this is that you haven’t. Please do,
and be blunt with yourself — “we got
caught unprepared in this single but
significant way” — and with your son.
“Yes, we got caught without life
insurance. It hadn’t occurred to us yet.
I’m sorry you feel the impact of that still.”
And of course by the time you fully
understood this, it was too late.
Then you need to leave it right there
and get on with your life. Which includes
getting to know the roommate and his

@helena_andrews @emilyaheil

though for different reasons. Schooled in
the idea of the male gaze, we fancy that a
clean line separates the virtuous ideal of
objectivity (disinterest, impartiality) and
the sin of objectifying (what male painters do to women’s bodies). But the line
may be more smudged than we think.
In the same way that the currently
discredited idea of “art for art’s sake” can
be seen as a valiant, if doomed, way of
trying to protect art from attempts to
co-opt it for other purposes (propaganda,
say), Cézanne’s fiercely objective approach to portraiture can be seen as an
attempt to protect his human subjects
from false feeling, projection and all the
distortions of desire.
It’s in this sense that his paintings are
spiritual. Like a Zen adept, Cézanne tries
to let go of the idea that one thing is more
important than another. It’s an idea that
can be applied easily enough to landscapes. But such letting go is hard to
achieve in portraits, where a subject’s
eyes, by convention, are supposed to be
more important than her face, her face
more important than her body, and her
body more important than the background.
In place of such hierarchies, there is a
warp and weft quality to Cézanne’s best
portraits, and it’s never more apparent
than in “Madame Cézanne in a Red
Armchair,” a painting which Rilke
claimed to have memorized “digit by
digit,” until he could feel it “even in my
sleep.” In front of it, it’s hard to be sure
which brushstroke is in front and which
behind, and impossible to say which part
is more important.
Life, it announces, is not hierarchical,
like a newspaper article, or linear, like a
line of dominoes. It is fluid and multifaceted, like a rippling mosaic. Instead of
cause and effect, there are only clusters of
interlocking circumstances that mysteriously give rise to new circumstances.
Cézanne couldn’t adjust one part of his
paintings without attending to — and
altering — the other parts. The process
involved dueling loyalties: to the subject,
in all its variability; and at the same time
to the canvas, in all its variability. The
circumstances kept changing, and with
it, so did the picture.
Looking at Cézanne’s pictures, as a
result, is also a process. A meditative one.
Not everyone loves it. You have to be in
the mood. But if it makes you want to
take up painting — well, you wouldn’t be
the first.
“Cézanne Portraits” is on view at the National
Gallery of Art through July 1. For information
visit www.nga.gov.

mom without hauling all of this baggage
with you — an example to your son if
nothing else.
That mom did what she could given
her difficult circumstances. (Lawyers can
be loaded or broke, by the way.) You did
what you could given your difficult
circumstances. Different outcomes are
just part of life. The only sure way to
make it a debilitating part of life is to
dwell on the differences.
Re: College kid: Your kid very likely gets

it and respects it. We all just dream of
hitting the lottery once in a while.
— Former College Student From a LessThan-Advantaged Background
Former College Student From a LessThan-Advantaged Background: What a

great answer, thank you.
Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.
Get her column delivered to your inbox each
morning at wapo.st/haxpost.
Join the discussion live at noon Fridays at

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