Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cezanne: View of Bonnières

Why am I posting this painting? Because I was fascinated by a discussion of it in one of Bernard Levin's columns.
The problem of Cezanne, which we who only want to feast on his pictures can
happily leave to the experts, is how to classify him. To start with, was he an
Impressionist at all? He said himself that his aim was ‘To make of Impressionism
something solid and durable. . .‘, which suggests that he was not altogether at
home in a world where everything dissolves, and if he was the true precursor of
Cubism, that would further distance him from the ‘true’ Impressionists, though
his Cubism was all his own, and it didn’t last long anyway.

A fig for all this taxonomy; go to the Academy and stand in front of
No. 17, ‘View of Bonnières’. Better still, get yourself a camp-stool and sit in
front of it. If you stay there long enough you will see the picture change
before your eyes, first becoming Impressionist, and then sliding imperceptibly
into Cubist. What you are watching through these metamorphoses is Cezanne
becoming Cezanne — no, Cezanne making himself Cezanne, wrenching his genius
apart to see how it works and how it can be put back together and remade.
Click on the pick to enlarge, and then spend some time in front of it on your camp-stool. Can you see it?

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