If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present

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If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present

If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present

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Another strength of this book is seen in the author’s ability to appraise established readings of Cézanne’s oeuvre.

If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present looks back on Cézanne from a moment – our own – when such judgments may seem to need justifying. Misses but maybe gets closer to—in ways that throw up new possibilities of phrasing, new tempi, new kinds of rubato, new instrumentation. Indeed, Cézanne’s early works drew on paintings of Delacroix and Poussin, and novels of Flaubert and Zola. Indeed, the apparent role of Pissarro as a mentor to Cézanne, who shaped his perception of nature, can be seen in the comparison between the pair of artists and Plato and Socrates, between French painting and Greek philosophy in the book’s first chapter, entitled Pissarro and Cézanne. In chapter two, Cézanne’s Material, the fruits of this approach appear in the focus on the richly coloured painting Still Life with Apples (c1893-95) from the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles: he describes the array of objects as “composed and crystalline”.Greenberg put Cézanne’s ‘unfading modernity’ down to the ‘problematic quality of his art’; Roger Fry felt himself ‘reduced to negative terms’ when tasked to put words to his paintings. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (1984), Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (1999), and Heaven on Earth: Painting and the Life to Come (2018).

Paul Cézanne: The Library of Great Painters by Meyer Schapiro, published by Harry N Abrams, Inc, 1952, page 26. I think it helps that the writing style is obviously derived from speech (a lot of italicised words for emphasis). But as his book proceeds, Clark invokes this quality to articulate a broader skepticism toward art history’s historicism writ large. An art historian like Kenneth Clark cannot be under-estimated in his unerring judgement and apt economy of statement.

In Cézanne’s Gravity, a book comparable to Clark’s in its summary gaze, Armstrong sought to redeem the artist in part through an interdisciplinary approach, where if Cézanne in his strangeness could be brought to bear on Einstein’s physics or Woolf’s fiction, he could be released from the teleological prison of modernist painting and gain newfound relevance. The monograph explores this originality of thinking, paving the way for the development of 20th century modern art movements, as the work of Cézanne inspired both Picasso and Matisse, the subject of the final chapter, Matisse in the Garden, which is an interesting addition to the book as it captures a specific sense of history associated with the first world war. So not an easy read but this approach has it’s rewards and you learn more than you would from a quick tour d’horizon ( it’s catching, this style) of Cezannes’s life and work. One abiding impression is that the author signposts “a social view” of the painter’s work, as seen where he highlights the fact that the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke produced a letter on a train in 1907, after seeing the Getty Still Life in Prague, describing the material’s colour as a “bourgeois blue-cotton blue”, symbolising “the belonging of Cézanne’s material to a specific class world”.

The selection of The Waste Land by TS Eliot, who presented views that were classicist in literature, fits the narrative of a modern painter, born in Aix-En-Provence in southern France.

Science and art collide as this show looks at how artists overcame the technical challenges involved in creating colour, and the breakthroughs they achieved in their quest to capture ethereal and earthly beauty.

Clark’s compromise for Still Life with Apples then leads to something like a malerisch phenomenology of commodity fetishism—one where “our objects have never been more ours,” yet entertain too many realities (pictorial, material, semiotic) to sit in real proximity to the subject. In his effort to recover the artist’s strangeness, Clark turns to familiar Cézannian subjects (apples, mountains, cardplayers) and interlocutors (Roger Fry, Meyer Schapiro, Rilke). In these more-than-close readings, social and historical worlds open up tentatively: Faced with Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples, ca. If These Apples Should Fall doesn’t so much answer this scholarship or correct an art-historical course as it distends the scholar’s moments of study into an elaborated, loping encounter with the artist’s work. The widely respected art historian has written his latest book on the painter, entitled If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present (2022).Yet his interest in impressionism, the antithesis of academic painting, and his friendship with Pissarro would be a decisive influence on his later works. Perhaps art need not be thought as the labile, vital force against history’s clumsy, bludgeoning mediation. However, Clark distinguishes himself from his predecessors through his sheer insistence on Cézanne’s – and modernity’s – negativity.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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