Cezanne

edited September 30 in General Discussion
I've always both loved and hated Cezanne's work. Some of it I've always found awesome (the still lifes and landscapes), some of it I just didn't get (the bathers). Why has he been so revered?  This is a short read on that topic:

Six reasons why artist’s artist Paul Cézanne is hailed as ‘greatest of us all’ | Paul Cezanne | The Guardian
MichaelD

Comments

  • Cezanne was the Nexus between old fashioned ways of seeing by creating new ways of seeing. The foundations of what is inside what is seen. He applied this to everything. It opened other artist eyes. Right at the time of the emergence of middle class. A new society. The end of empire. Modern man.
    tassieguy
  • Looking at cezanne from todays space time vantage point makes his work appear so-so.  We are so inundated with that kind of imagery that we can’t feel how inventive it was at its time.   
  • GTO said:
    Looking at cezanne from todays space time vantage point makes his work appear so-so.  We are so inundated with that kind of imagery that we can’t feel how inventive it was at its time.   
    It's the same feeling I get when I read novels like 1984, Brave New World, The Time machine, etc..
  • edited October 1
    Yes, I think that's right, @GTO. We've become immune to it to a certain extent. But when seen in the flesh on a gallery wall, I still find his best work jaw dropping. His use of colour as a compositional element is awesome but doesn't come across so well in photos. 

    Along with his still lifes, I love his portraits. Here are two of his best:

    Madame Czanne in a Red Armchair by Paul Czanne c1877

    Boy in a Red Waistcoat by Paul Czanne 1888-90


    And one of his sumptuous still lifes:

    Paul Cezanne Still Life with Fruit Basket 2  Paul Czann  Flickr

    And one of his best landscapes:

    Paul Czanne  Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley   The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Those are exceptional.
    tassieguy
  • edited October 1
    There's something crystalline and glowing about his best work. It gives me goosebumps.  I think his place in the artistic pantheon is justified. However, I just can't warm to this, even though Picasso did:

    Paul Czanne French - The Large Bathers - Google Art Projectjpg
      
    The painting was purchased in 1937 for $110,000 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Who knows what is would be worth today.

    Cezanne famously said that he wanted to "do Poussin all over from Nature." He wanted to "impose order, a grand design and a semblance of calm upon impressions that in life were both peremptory and fugitive" (John Russell, New York Times, Nov 4, 1990) However, in the Bather series, I think he sacrificed way too much to design. 

    For an explanation of, and a more sympathetic take on the painting, see here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bathers_(Cézanne)\

  • GTOGTO -
    edited October 2
    If it weren’t a cezanne and it were critiqued here we might hear how he should not have used black outlines on the figures and the heads being too small.😀
    If you look at the figure on our far right you can see the back side of legs and a butt and a woman’s head on top of the butt!

    I don’t think we are able to appreciator see this painting in the same way it was seen back in 1906.
    Desertsky
  • edited October 2
    That's true, @GTO. We can't see Cezanne's painting in the same way it was seen by people over a century ago. But we can see how it led to these by Picasso and Matisse:


    Picasso    Les Demoiselles D'Avignon 

    Les Demoiselles dAvignonjpg


    Matisse     Blue Nude




    Like Cezanne's Bathers these are both worth squillions now. 

    I wonder how much 20thC painters like Lucien Freud were influenced by these developments. 

    Evening in the Studio 1993  The Lucian Freud Archive All Rights Reserved 2022 Bridgeman Images


    There is an exhibition of Freud's work on currently at the National Gallery in London. And there's a story about the exhibition here: Lucian Freud: New Perspectives; Marina Abramović: Gates and Portals – review | Art and design | The Guardian
    judith
  • This with apologies for imposing on this conversation: this being my first posting as a recently subscribed member.


    @GTO  Am rather in agreement with you; both in your assessment and the way you have expressed your appraisal.

    If I had invented and produced that painting and presented it here as my own work, doubtless there might have been kind and quite warm follow-through suggestions re. good early effort; encouragement, and gentle advice primarily around my representation of form, and edges perhaps?

    The art of describing edges has been laid out before us thoroughly and for centuries, and won't have been unknown to Cezanne. So why did he paint so badly?

    My own thinking, and which is purely subjective, is that exciting and perhaps persuasive technical developments such as industrially produced new and dazzlingly seductive tubed pigments – and together with the rise of photography – will each each have destabilised the expectations and perhaps persuaded the career prospects of painters wishing to somehow prosper? Whatever.

    The art of painting representational abstraction is a skill, but nonetheless through dancing in the the hands of the impressionists arrived quickly to cubism (and subsequently to near total abstraction), and thereafter who knows what else with regard to calculated dots, spilled paint, and architectural representations formed of geometric grids with a bit of colour filling a square or two. So, where are we now?

    With kind regards and best wishes to all, Duncan.
    AbstractionMyArtsClub
  • edited October 2
    Welcome to the conversation, @Moleman, Duncan. You are not imposing on the conversation. On the contrary, it's good to see you posting. Your comments are pertinent and insightful.
     
    Where are we now? you ask. Good question. Wish I knew the answer. What I do know is that people are still painting. And happily, still painting realism.  And I think (hope) that will always be so.  :)
  • Duncan @MoleMan and @tassieguy Rob,
      I love Freud’s work.  (I think he is toying with us in that painting you posted).  I will have to check out that exhibit.  Gerhard Richter is another favorite BTW.
    How much of what we value in art is also determined by curators and collectors.  There is a need for finding the next best thing.  I think that drives a lot of the art trends like Impressionism cubism, abstract etc.  Curators want to protect the investment in their clients and collectors want to be on the forefront of the trend.  
    I think this trend has only grown exponentially over time.  Art has become the new “real estate “. I am not as concerned as some about digital works.  I think the real money will always  be in the actual painting, something you can touch and feel that doesn’t just exist in the ether.
    I don’t know “where” art is now.  It feels like a pluralistic scene.  Museums are doing more interactive “entertainment” things now.  A lot of shows have their eye on contemporary social issues now.  But there are still a lot of opportunities for classical works.  
    But can you imagine submitting that Freud painting to a juried exhibit now.  I can think of only one regional show that might accept it, maybe.  How would you go about finding a market for that if you were an unknown regional artist? 

    tassieguy
  • edited October 3
    I love Freud's work, too. Even though what he depicts is often not pretty. After I got over the initial shock I felt at the painting above, I was able to move past what was depicted and began to see it instead as a wonderful, abstract arrangement of form, values and colour. On that level it is a masterpiece, IMHO.  Squinting at it helps to see it that way.

    There's was a large Freud on display at the AGNSW in Sydney a few years back that I was lucky enough to see.  I was bowled over by the composition and the quality of the paint and brushwork. Freud constructed bodies in paint. It's not apparent in this photo but the way he mixes and applies paint gives the flesh tones a marvelously luminous quality.  Something to do with the Lead White he used. The painting is of Leigh Bowery, an Australian performance artist in London and one of Freud's favorite models. 

    I could have afforded a Freud before he became famous. If I'd bought one, I'd be rich now.  :)



    Of course, not everyone will like his work, just as not everyone likes Cezanne. 

    judith
  • edited October 3
    You mentioned Gerhard Richter, @GTO. What I like so much about his work is not just individual paintings but the range of his work. He moves, seemingly effortlessly, from hyperrealism to semi-abstraction to compete abstraction and back to realism. And all the paintings work for me. He's an amazing painter. 

    Gerhard Richter - Seascape Cloudy

    Venedig

    Gerhard Richter - Abstract Painting 780 1
    judithwhunt
  • @tassieguy Richter has navigated those genres well.  I saw his retrospective exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago back in 2002.  
    What I like about his realism is the sense of impersonal reserve.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  It shows even in the portraits he did.  I think the fact that he successfully moves from one genre to another is a lesson well taken.  He reinvents himself that way.

    tassieguy
  • @GTO and @tassieguy Thank you each for your very kind welcoming. I write on this occasion mainly to register an apology: not personally from me but on behalf of the cynic that lives within and gnaws at me. It wasn't my intention to be so dismissive of Cezzane. I just think he is overrated as a painter and was perhaps trod on by others who excused their ambitions on basis of whatever. I don't know, I wasn't there.
     
    Lucian Freud, on the other hand – and in appreciation of @tassieguy slipping him discretely into the broader picture – sits as an icon to me. Not for his pictures so much as his painting of flesh, particularly in his mature years. It seems he couldn't get enough of the stuff and so might, I think, have exaggerated a little the acreage of some of his models? A man of extremes perhaps, because he was equally obsessed with depicting sinew. As a painter of flesh Freud stands firmly as my all-time hero of modern-day painters.  Much in the same way perhaps that Sargent is appreciated and admired by so many that have ever held a brush and assumed to splash it around a bit - and articulated from the shoulder, of course.
     
    Setting romancing the brushstrokes aside a little, I think that @KingstonFineArt wrote it plainly and very succinctly here. “Cezanne was the Nexus between old-fashioned ways of seeing by creating new ways of seeing. The foundations of what is inside what is seen. He applied this to everything. It opened other artist eyes. Right at the time of the emergence of middle class. A new society. The end of empire. Modern man.” Fair enough, and in trawling this venue at some length before subscribing I'd developed a fondness for Mr Kingston's attitude and breadth of thinking – and not least because the man stands modestly behind an immodest beard. Painting in your underpants is a fine concept. Freud however appears to have abandoned even that discretion when painting himself...
     
     

  • What's great about art is that some artists use it to convey universal and eternal truths about the human condition, while others use it to portray utterly unique and subjective perspectives and experiences of irreplacable unrepeatable individuals.

    Also as viewers we can hate or love universal and eternal truths about humanity and hate or love those subjective perspectives and experiences.



    W: “I sense great vulnerability. A man-child crying out for love. An innocent orphan in the post-modern world.”

    M:  “I see a parasite. A sexually depraved miscreant who is seeking only to gratify his basest and most immediate urges.”

    W:  “His struggle is man's struggle. He lifts my spirit.”

    M:  “He is a loathsome, offensive brute. Yet I can’t look away.”

    W:  “He transcends time and space.”

    M:  “He sickens me.”

    W:  “I love it.”

    M:  “Me too.”

    tassieguy
  • edited October 4
    Cheers, @Moleman. I enjoyed reading your post.

    I agree that some of Cezanne's work is perhaps overrated. Or, at least, not very accessible to the average viewer. However, for me, the best of it is exquisite. And because they are paintings they are best appreciated in the flesh on a well-lit wall in a gallery where the colour and texture are very apparent. Photos just don't capture the power of the paintings. 

    Same with Freud. You have to see them in the flesh (and there's plenty of it) to really appreciate them. That's why I think digital art and AI art are never going to replace paintings. What we value most about them is precisely what only a human painter with brushes and paint can create.  :)
  • edited October 4
    Here's another article published today about the Cezanne exhibition at the Tate. Contemporary artists comment on how Cezanne has influenced their own work and, insightfully, on why he was, and still is, so important.  A short but good read. 

    ‘He captured the flux of sensation itself’: Bridget Riley, Luc Tuymans and other painters on Cézanne’s genius | Paul Cezanne | The Guardian
  • @MoleMan thoroughly enjoyed your comments.  May I ask do you have a literary background?  You have a way of expressing yourself with metaphor and a bit of joie de vivre. 
    @CBG.  I like your subjective quotes.  Maybe the fact that any one of those, all, or none of them could be true is what makes his work so interesting?  Or maybe he just put those shoes on to keep his feet from stepping into the paint sloshing all over the floor. 
    … or maybe …. The shoes are a clue?  Maybe the shoes represent that part of our body that makes contact with the world.  And we must find good leather to make shoes that can allow us to traverse this world during our short time here.  
  • CBGCBG -
    edited October 4
    GTO said:
    @MoleMan thoroughly enjoyed your comments.  May I ask do you have a literary background?  You have a way of expressing yourself with metaphor and a bit of joie de vivre. 
    @CBG.  I like your subjective quotes.  Maybe the fact that any one of those, all, or none of them could be true is what makes his work so interesting?  Or maybe he just put those shoes on to keep his feet from stepping into the paint sloshing all over the floor. 
    … or maybe …. The shoes are a clue?  Maybe the shoes represent that part of our body that makes contact with the world.  And we must find good leather to make shoes that can allow us to traverse this world during our short time here.  
    uh oh.

    I really hadn’t looked specifically at that Freud painting… 

    I made a direct quote of a scene of Seinfeld in which George’s fiancé’s parents discuss a painting of Kramer.  

    https://youtu.be/rhsfmM4CaqE


    You thought that was a meaningful and artful commentary on the Freud piece… whereas I was merely recreating a moment from Seinfeld to illustrate how wonderfully subjective taste can be…

    Perhaps this misunderstanding is yet another form of Art?

  • GTOGTO -
    edited October 4
    @CBG. That’s truly poetic on every level.  But you do see how every one of those statements could be someone’s subjective experience of the Freud self portrait that Duncan posted?   

    This reminds me of those group art critiques back in school where students present their work and have to talk about it and respond to feed back from their peers.  For young artists it can feel uncomfortable putting words together and describing what they intended or are trying to say.  
    Back when I attended art school there was a lot of emphasis on the ideas behind the work and less on the craft; more work in your head and less classical technique.   Over the last three years I’ve switched that around.  More work from the wrist down and less from the neck up. 

    ( edited… @CBG I just watched that Seinfeld video and could not stop laughing especially with Freud’s painting in mind what a riot)
    CBG
  • To me that's the problem with a lot of modern fine art courses (and one of my friends did a Masters in Fine Art), that they focus on ideas, rather than execution.
    Abstraction
  • GTO said:
    @MoleMan thoroughly enjoyed your comments.  May I ask do you have a literary background?  You have a way of expressing yourself with metaphor and a bit of joie de vivre. 
    @CBG.  I like your subjective quotes.  Maybe the fact that any one of those, all, or none of them could be true is what makes his work so interesting?  Or maybe he just put those shoes on to keep his feet from stepping into the paint sloshing all over the floor. 
    … or maybe …. The shoes are a clue?  Maybe the shoes represent that part of our body that makes contact with the world.  And we must find good leather to make shoes that can allow us to traverse this world during our short time here.  
    No, I don't have a literary background at all, nothing of substance anyway. I'm just an old man who discovered oil paint at around the age of 13yrs and has painted – albeit very sporadically – ever since. In fact I'm so old that I've transcended mere brushstrokes and arrived at a higher plane populated also by strokes of a different kind. They play merry-hell with your hand-to-eye co-ordination, and invest your arm with mind of its own. On top of that I'm English (which probably means I'm a bit weird anyway) and have a deep-rooted love of the language. I suppose mainly, I try to weave a bit of humour into a text to reassure myself that I'm still ticking.
     
    Well done for the heads-up regards Freud's footwear. I've known that picture for a few years now, but I'd never picked-up on the shoes. They might be there to make some sort of statement, I suppose, although I can't think what. But I rather enjoyed reading your ideas. To add to those, and the man being such a strikingly brave painter, I think it unlikely he was very fearful of getting cold feet.
     
    Best rgds, Duncan
  • @MoleMan
    Well, there you go.  Being English and of the older variety explains your fluency with the language.  I can relate.  Getting older is a process of letting go, your hearing, sight, your loves, eventually of everything.  
    Regarding the shoes. I could be totally off base on that.  He may have just had smelly feet that day.  But seriously, I would have to research his works for any other such symbolism, particularly if his time and culture to decide if in fact he used those shoes symbolically.  And if he did so intentionally.  Personally, I think they stand out so much that they are intentional, especially given that the rest of his body is naked.   
     There’s an art to “showing” rather than “telling”.  Freud is 100% showing.  That gets back to my comment regarding the head versus the hand when it comes to being an artist.   In Freud’s case he’s painting from the head first and the hand second.  

    From a market standpoint Freud surpassed Richter back in 2008 when Christie’s could not auction a Richter because it didn’t reach the reserve.  At that time he became, as they say in the industry “bought in”, downhill from there.  That same year Freud sold The Benefits supervisor for 17.2 million pounds ($33.6 mil US) the world record for a living artist at that time.  
    So, whether your brush wiggles, jiggles or jumps, just go with it and paint with your head.

    MoleManwhunt
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