The Laws of Nature

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Conversations with Cezanne

Conversations with Cezanne
Michael Doran, Ed. (2001)

Browsing through my bookshelves here in Maine I came across this book and think it's worth considering. I probably won’t review the entire book, which is a compilation of eyewitness texts which illustrate the last decades of Paul Cezanne’s life. But, there are several parts worth posting.

One of these eyewitness texts was written by the poet Leo Larguier in 1901. Larguier met Cezanne and befriended Cezanne’s son who provided him with these unaltered notes from his famous father:

1. Critics’ opinions about art are formulated more on literary principles than on aesthetic ones.
2. The artist must avoid literature in art.
3. Art is the manifestation of an exquisite sensitivity.
4. Sensitivity defines the individual. At its highest level, it identifies the artist.
5. Great sensitivity is the most powerful characteristic of any beautiful artistic creation.
6. The most seductive element in art is the artist’s own personality.
7. The artist gives form to his sensibility, to his own, innate individuality.
8. The nobility of an artist’s creation reveals his soul.
9. The artist materializes and individualizes.
10. The artist knows the joy of being able to communicate to others his excitement about nature, that masterpiece whose mysteries he believes he has deciphered.
11. Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotion by daily contact with nature.
12. For the artist seeing is creating; creating is composing.
13. Because the artist does not note down his emotions as the bird sings his song: he composes.
14. The universality of the immediate impact of a work of art does not indicate its importance.

These are gems, and I’ll continue the list with the next post. There’s lots to consider here before moving on.

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Oh Cezanne was an intriguing character! He probably would have intimidated me. Coincidentally, I have been thinking about Cezanne all day. In part because of an article about Cezanne in the Palette Magazine, and in part because he was one of my earliest, favorite artist! Thanks and fun post!

M said...

I certainly agree with #1 . I think many critics respond to art based on their interest in words and ideas rather than aesthetics. There are great ideas in the list . Let's see what others think.

Casey Klahn said...

Numbers 1 and 2 are very revealing if you know your French art history. Cezanne was pushing back, and outward. That is very cool.

Overall I find this list very challenging. Food for thought!

"The universality of the immediate impact of a work of art does not indicate its importance."

Wow. That is a mind blower. I wonder if he means the deeper ideas of the artists are hidden, or require interpretation? Is he dissing the viewer, or the average viewer? I can agree that art must have its own agenda.

-Don said...

A lot to consider, indeed... Thanks for these. Some of my favorites are the ones Casey listed. I would dare say that even though comments 1 & 2 relate to his times, they also relate to ours. I've always been inspired that Cezanne was pushing "back and outward". (great way to put it, Casey.) As for number 14, I don't think there's an insult thrown at the viewer, I think he's saying that just because everyone likes and can relate to a creation this doesn't mean it's an important one. I think he's just basically defined kitsch...

Now it's time for me to go manifest some exquisite sensitivity...


Mary Paquet said...

We had a very interesting performance at an annual Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society event by a man who takes on the character of the artist. He did Cezanne. Very interesting and complex personality.

I personally related to No. 4 through 7.

Kathy, as a result of Myrna Wacknov's post about her award from the San Diego Watercolor Society, I visited the winners page and was thrilled to see your "The Law of Universal Gravity" won an award! Congratulations!

hw (hallie) farber said...

I think sensitivity does make the artist. No. 12 describes my take on art. And I agree with Don's interpretation of No. 14.

Unknown said...

Hi Peggy - That IS a coincidence!

Hi Margaret - yes, I, too, was intrigued by #1!

Hi Casey - so true and one of the things I love about Cezanne (the "push back"). I think that statement about the importance of a work relates to the critics (statement #1) as well as the society. I think it's a great observation!

Hi Don - yes, he definitely defined kitsch with that one!

Hi Mary - I would have loved to have seen that performance!! Very cool. Thanks for the congrats; I was thrilled to receive an award.

Hi Hallie - I agree. Without sensitivity, our art would be cold and indifferent - lacking passion.