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November 14, 2004

Eye Candy Unleashed!


by Paul Cezanne
painting c. 1899
Oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 36 5/8 in (74 X 93 cm)
Musee du Louvre, Galerie du Jeu de Paume, Paris

Paul Cezanne (say ZAN) was born in France. His father was a wealthy banker and he wanted his son to become a banker. He did not approve of Cezanne's plan to become an artist, but he went on to Paris anyway. After a while, his father sent him a small allowance on which to live.

When he got to Paris, his paintings were so rough that none of the official art schools would admit him as a student. At first his paintings were done in dark colors, but Pissarro, another painter, encouraged him to paint out in the sunlight, and his paintings came alive with bright colors.

He did not like to be with other people and isolated himself, even from his friends. When he was 47 years old, his father died and he inherited his father's wealth.

He complained that he could not paint pictures of people properly, and in fact his still lifes (pictures of objects in settings) became his best works.

He was not very successful until in 1895 when Vollard, an art dealer in Paris, exhibited his works and he began to enjoy the success he had longed for.

Cezanne considered shapes to be the basic forms; the sphere, cone, and cylinder. Look at the painting, Apples and Oranges and find these shapes in the fruit, the pitcher, and the bowl.

Text from "Cezanne, The Late Work" exhibition catalog:

"This still life is painted on a white canvas whose priming is visible in the tablecloth at lower left. Compared with such a serene composition as pl. 148, set against a large, unadorned wall, this picture presents a cluttered and almost agitated arrangement of opposing elements, colors, and patterns. There are two different draperies in the back- ground: at the left--seemingly hanging from the wall--the rug with rust-brown purplish squares and a red and dark green design that was still in Cezanne's Lauves studio until World War II; next to it is a brown-beige curtain with a pattern of light green leaves and some traces of red that cascades down, met by the multifolded large white tablecloth on which crockery, apples, and oranges are assembled. At left, behind the tilted dish and half-hidden by the tablecloth, appears a small green fruit, echoing the color of the green upholstery. The dark brown background in the upper right seems related to the Vollard portrait. (This would imply that this picture may have been painted in Cezanne's Paris studio on the rue Hegesippe Moreau in 1898-99, although the milkpot is presumed to have been among the artist's paraphernalia in Aix.)

"The surface on which the elements of this still life are assembled appears somewhat ambiguous, concealed as it is by the white cloth; only one table leg can be seen at the right, whereas at the left the tabletop may be resting on the sofa whose wooden frame and green upholstery can be perceived below the round dish. The white pitcher with floral design barely detaches itself from the busy surface of the curtain at right, while the stark orange fruit form a sharp contrast to the white of the cloth and the bowl. The draperies on the top and the tablecloth at the bottom practically fill the entire space not occupied by the still-life objects proper.

"Though unusually crowded, this composition obviously corresponds to a specific mood of the artist, for, as David Sylvester has said: "An apple or an orange was perhaps the best possible subject he could have: first, because while working from nature, he could still dispose it as he wished; secondly, because it carried no strong emotional overtones to distract him from realizing his sensations; thirdly, because such objects presented, far more readily than landscape, the possibility of finding those clear and regular forms, like orders of architecture, which are needed for the creation of a monumental art."

This painting originally belonged to Gustave Geffroy.

Posted by Dan at November 14, 2004 10:58 PM

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