Learning From Cézanne's Still Lifes
Why so many apples? I have theories
Dear reader, over the past few months I’ve been going through some heavy things that’s made it difficult to be on here sharing things. I appreciate you for sticking around. I’m gradually coming back with a lot of art and design things that I hope you enjoy. ⍺⍺
Still Life Analysis
Seriously, what on earth possessed Cézanne to paint so many still lifes of apples?
He was obviously after something. Whatever it was I think he found it. The Cubists agree with me.
Yesterday, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Sandy. We’re both standing in front of one of Cézanne’s still life of apples. She asked me “Why apples?”
Great question I thought. Why apples? I prefaced my speculation with I don’t know but... they’re spherical so they provide a fantastic challenge for value and color. Some artists say they represent the female figure. Others think it was a practical reason; they keep better than other fruits.
But come on, really what makes this painting of apples or any other fruit interesting? Is it because some dead French guy with a cool name made it? Or is it because auction houses have decided that it should be worth a ton of money? Well, yes but you see, that’s not the whole picture. Our brother in arts Paul Cézanne was up to something.
I’m standing in front of a grand piano. Now /imagine if I played each key on the piano in succession. Boring! Similarly, a regular picture of a pile of apples is boring. Now /imagine Claude Debussy in front of the piano. He begins to play and starts composing! You get the idea. The same principle applies to the apples and pears in the following painting by Cézanne.
How then can Cézanne make a painting of apples and fruit special enough to be considered Art? Ah! Well, I don’t have answers, but I do have some theories.
The visual game has many layers. In this analysis, I’m going to reveal only one layer of the game.
The compositional game.
Among the players are planes indicated by the crossing arrows and volumes shown as cubic and rectangular volumes. The thicker arrows indicate the direction of the volume’s top.
Imagine each direction is a different tune. The arrangement or the composition is a visual piece of music.
What I find fascinating about this piece and all the other still lifes that Cézanne gave us is how liberal he is with perspective. It’s like we’ve been shown the Apples and Pears in mid-movement. This is just my theory. But I’m curious to hear from you. What do you think about this Still Life? Did it make sense?
Until the next one. Let’s have a great year. Ok, I’m going back to listening to André 3000’s new album.