Thursday, 30 June 2011


Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire 1885-7
The more I look at the new photographic joiners I have produced recently, the more Cezanne is called to mind. I have already discussed cubism and Cezanne, has be rarely referred to, apart from during a discussion of Diebenkorn. “Cezanne is famous for saying that any idiot can make deep space” Gilbert-Rolfe reminds us, and “that it is already deep”. The task then “of the artist is to carve out that space- an oxymoron that exactly describes Cezanne’s general practice” (Gilbert-Rolfe, 1995 p. 91).  Although the strategy of the photo-joiners seems radically different from the aims and ambitions of the first project, the formal qualities of the photographic pieces seem similar to some of Cezanne’s pieces. Cezanne’s aims have some similarities to my own. Cezanne according to Norbert Lynton “spoke as though painting were a desperately difficult matter of capturing ‘little’ sensations’ and disposing them on a surface, not to imitate nature so much as to construct an image that would be ‘parallel to nature’” (Lynton, 2003 p.23). Unlike Impressionism Cezanne’s art “is not concerned with light” (Lynton, 2003 p.23). Cezanne’s attention is on “capturing the subjects before him to show their physical presence and also the spatial relationships and tensions between them” (Lynton, 2003 p.23).

Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire 1904-6.

The emphasis “was on seeing” (Lynton, 2003 p.23) and I wondered whether this was fully the case with my own work. So, Cezanne avoids the mere “retinal scanning of the Impressionists” and engages “with the complex process by which we relate ourselves to the work physically and spiritually” (Lynton, 2003 p.23).

Cezanne’s work is a recording of forms through the juxtaposition of small planes or facets. Like Cubism it is a mosaic of experiences. A lot of abstract art emerges from Cezanne, but Cezanne can never be the father of abstraction. What Cezanne gives us however is “a process of seeing” (Hughes, 1991 p.18). The critic Barbara Rose is quoted as saying in a different context, the statement; “This is what I see” , is replaced by the question: “Is this what I see?” (Hughes, 1991 p.18). What we see in a Cezanne is a record of hesitation and doubt. 


Gilbert-Rolfe, J. (1995) Beyond Piety: Critical Essays on the Visual Arts 1986-1993, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hudson, J., (2010) "Richard Diebenkorn"

Hudson, J., (2010) "Diebenkorn and Cezanne" 

Hughes, R., (1991) The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change London: Thames and Hudson

Lynton, N., (2003) The Story of Modern Art London: Phaidon


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