“View of Bonnières” – Paul Cezanne
Why am I posting this painting? Because I was fascinated by a discussion of it in one of Bernard Levin's columns I was re-reading.
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?