In the catalogue for the grand retrospective of Cezanne's work now at the Tate Gallery in London, artist Paul Chan writes that the Aristotelian concept of energeia or "aliveness" is the motion that enables living things to think and move independently. He sees all of Cezanne's paintings of bathers as being full of such motion, such energy. Better yet, the bathers are "at ease with themselves. They look pleased by simply being, enlivened by their surroundings and by each other, enjoying themselves without guilt, aggression, or fear." It's good to have the midterm elections behind us. In a dark time of far too much stubborn aggression and fear, however, isn't it also good to be reminded that the arts can give readers, viewers, and listeners a surge of life-giving energy and joy?
Picturing a World
Picture this! Renoir once noted "that it was not uncommon to discover watercolors from his [Cézanne's] hand discarded in the fields around Aix-en-Provence, sprouting here and there like the forgotten verses of an absent-minded poet" (Matthew Simms, Cézanne's Watercolors, p. 146). Image via MOMA. Read More
In Cézanne's Watercolors: Between Drawing and Painting by Matthew Simms, I was astonished to read that a single sheet has this gorgeous, limpid still life on one side and the beckoning woodland on the other. Can you imagine owning something like that?
Blog post alert: Gorgeous photographs of apples in an Orchard of Kent celebrate England's Apple Day. Everyone—historical novel writers in particular—should do themselves a favor and seek out heirloom apples to savor the tastes of the past. For more about apples and Apple Day, click here.
As for today's image: I chose it partly to respect the copyright of the Spitalsfield Life photographer, Rachel Ferriman, and partly to celebrate Pavel Machotka's illuminating study, Cézanne: The Eye and the Mind, which I finished reading this morning. Written by a deeply learned art historian who was also a painter, it explains such things as the difference between what the wrist and the forearm do as well as how colors relate or the effect of brushstrokes in vivifying or stabilizing a composition. A wonderful resource.
I have now visited the Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway show at the Clark twice, once with no prior preparation and once after reading the catalogue. To prepare for a third visit, I have begun reading Pavel Machotka's Cézanne: Landscape into Art in hopes of discovering useful ways of thinking about the paintings; for Astrup's deeply felt response to his native landscape remind me of Cezanne's. What Machotka unexpectedly gave me, too, was a way of thinking about a story I've been working on.
EDIT: Well! Late in the day of this post, I have just double-checked the link to Zorn's Opal and been taken to the correct write-up but the wrong painting at the Worcester Art Museum. A weird computer glitch, which I hope becomes self-correcting. At least, the Eakins and Cezanne links below work! Read More