Friday, May 21, 2010

Cezanne Route

Mt. St. Victorie from Tholonet


Cezanne, sometimes called the Father of Modern Art, was a local Aix-en-Provence boy who lived and painted with the silhouette of Mt. St. Victoire either on the horizon when he was in town or in his backyard when he was at his studio in the countryside. We saw it as we drove into the city from the west, from our hotel room we could see most of it by going to edge of our terrace and leaning out, and we drove a portion of the Cezanne route to get a closer view.

It’s an unremarkable, but dominant chunk of rock, and seeing the mountain it is easier to understand how he structured the overlapping gray facets of rocks to create his view of solidarity.

He did the same thing with his still life paintings with a tablecloth like mountain underneath the apples, oranges, wine bottles, pastries, and baskets he loved. Although he painted from nature he imposed his structure on nature, and that elegantly simple reversal forever changed the way artists saw the 2-dimensional plane of their canvas.

It was Picasso who took the baton from Cezanne, and ran back to his studio to develop cubism. I find it interesting that very few of Cezanne’s paintings are here at the central museum in Aix, and the ones that are are minor. The city father’s didn’t much care for his work when he lived here, and I’ve read that most of them still don’t.

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