(EN) Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples, 1893-1894

Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples from J. Paul Getty Museum collection in Los Angeles is a painting from the series of still lifes created during the last thirty years of the artist’s life. It contains his favourite objects – the ginger pot, the rum bottle, the green vase and the apples. With white table cloth and black arabesque on blue cloth underneath, everything precisely arranged to highlight shape, colour and lightning. The three elements used by Cézanne on various occasions.

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples, 1893-1894, Oil on Canvas, 65.5×81.5cm | Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_C%C3%A9zanne_175.jpg

The modelling created through juxtaposition of brushstrokes and carefully selected colours is one of the reasons why this technique was seen as flawed and lacking skill. Whereas classical old masters were hiding every brush stroke under mist of colour and its smoothing, Cézanne was fully interested into impact which applied colour will have and often left it unblended on the surface of canvas.

Although every object edge run into another and therefore seems to be pressed against, the composition does not emit any tension but complete and soothing harmony. Also, if we compare the blue ginger pot’s and the green vase’s mouth, we can say the perspective is not correct, however these objects are standing next to each other in perfect accord.

The technique of reshaping the natural world for the purpose of expression was influenced by the idea that all representation of nature can be reproduced with objects cube, cone and sphere. This has been developed even further after artist’s death in 1906 by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque when they pioneered Cubism movement and fully opened door to abstraction. There is no wonder that C

Another thought about the reshaping of natural world can be supported by the blue cloth with black arabesque on it. Being on the picture alone without objects around, hard to recognise what it is. Some ornaments on the floor or just decoration with hidden meaning? This object simply has no exact shaping and lightning as we know from the real world. That’s where I can the implication of the the developing link heading towards the abstraction.

Let us have a look at two quotations below to understand Cézanne’s reputation as the master of palpability and the eagerness of search for the harmony in art.

“It’s as if the artist were behind rather than in front of the canvas, pushing everything outwards” made by Braque. (Richardson,1996, p. 55)

“It’s not what an artist does that counts”, Picasso remarked, ”but what he is. Cézanne’s anxiety is what interests us. That is his lesson.” (Richardson,1996, p. 52)

I can see the mentioned anxiety as the crucial part in the art development as what followed according to the art history were more dynamic brush strokes, more penetrative accesses to the medium, more artists painting directly from their mind to canvas.

From the mockery to one of the most influenced painter of our times. That is the reputation itself.

Radek Štencl

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