Tag Archives: Cézanne

Plants and Animals

If some readers are not convinced by my description, in the previous post, of Krasner’s work as ruled by a plant metaphor, I submit these two works, which have titles and colours to match that theme. But it’s interesting that … Continue reading

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Black Rain

Thinking about Kandinsky’s disregard for any tight or comprehensive order, I realize that I don’t quite agree. I want an organic kind of closure, if you could call it that. Poussin after nature, as Cézanne described it. Geometry loose, but … Continue reading

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Crouching Woman

Going back to look again at William Tucker’s book, I find my original impression confirmed—it’s really great. Ideas come tumbling out at every turn of the page. Here’s one insight from the chapter on Rodin: “With the Prodigal Son and … Continue reading

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Appearance and Desire

Nineteenth century artists like Cézanne and Degas believed that if they channeled sexual energy into their work they would get better results. Matisse had the same view. Models should be attractive, but the feelings they aroused had to be transformed … Continue reading

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The Invisible Greater Part

In ordinary life one doesn’t have to see or know exactly how things relate in order to do something useful with them. For one obvious example, a cook doesn’t have to understand what is going on chemically in the oven … Continue reading

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Cézanne at an Angle

Many of Cézanne’s compositions lean. They have a tilt. The desire to rectify, or straighten out, or balance when a tilt appears is so strong. Learn from Cézanne to go with the lean, and not correct it.

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The Score

Any artwork worthy of the name will give more over time. One experience of it can hardly be enough. In music there are recordings, but the best way to listen to music is to play it from the score, that … Continue reading

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Asymmetry

I found this quilt by Sonia Delaunay in the Sydney Paths to Abstraction catalog. I’ve been looking at it for a while, and just realized why I like it, and what it means for abstraction. The parts are not all … Continue reading

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Moments

Like The Garden of Forking Paths, the story by Borges, or the theoretical physicists fantasy of multiple universes appearing like soap bubbles in each other—each moment forks off into many possibilities, and each one of those forks further. In reality … Continue reading

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Landscape Contra Figure

The view that abstract art derives from landscape is venerable, and if we look at Kandinsky, Mondrian and other early abstractionists, not far-fetched. Ehrenzweig makes the following observation: “In my view, the dehumanization of Western art began when the contemplation … Continue reading

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The Model

Ehrenzweig on life drawing: “In schools the nudity of the model must not be associated with an individual person. The art student rises above any emotional involvement with the nude woman as a person; he [sic] is encouraged to study … Continue reading

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Originality

Originality, as it happens, is the highest value in the art of our time. Many artists don’t like that—sadly nothing can be done about it. Even Sherrie Levine is original in her critique of the concept, as Howard Singerman, her … Continue reading

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After Poussin

Following from the preceding post, the overloadedness (if the reader will forgive such an awkward coinage) of Stella’s work is attractive, to me at least, but it does present problems. For one it becomes more difficult than usual to grasp … Continue reading

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Picasso’s Tricks

I’m always struck by the fact that the most skilled artists, Picasso and Cézanne for two examples, go out of their way to plan pictures that they could carry off straight out, without much preparation. Whereas the average artist has … Continue reading

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Modernist Method

An example of modernist practice in its purest form might be the paintings of Paul Klee. He starts with a formal idea, a method, a sense of how relationships should play out, and the work is generated from that. Whether … Continue reading

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Time Passing

Cézanne’s card players have come up before on this blog. I find them puzzling. The subject is boring and the manner is uninspired, even if the pictures do contain lots of typical Cézanne. But maybe time does pass without much … Continue reading

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Nothing New

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” So begins a novel by Samuel Beckett. In art, novelty can’t stand inspection, because every work has precursors, but works are new not because they are new but because they … Continue reading

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First and last

In America, “first” means best, and also the leader. Of course, every artist is the last, always coming after the great achievements of the past. In American art, leadership is gained by deploying tropes of “firstness,” by claiming to access … Continue reading

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Helen Frankenthaler

I was moved by Anne Wagner’s obituary for Helen Frankenthaler in the April 2012 issue of Artforum. Every artist has to make their own canon, never more than today, when almost all artists are educated by art historians. Frankenthaler belongs … Continue reading

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Planning

In the previous post, with reference to Frank Stella, I mentioned planning. That can be a very pleasurable activity in art—to project an image, then work out how to get it, the procedures, the methods, the materials. Of course, all … Continue reading

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Once only

There’s a lot more to say about time, and a lot that’s important for art, but I would like to talk about my kind of art. I would call it an additive tradition, running from Pollock through Frankenthaler, Louis and … Continue reading

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Cézanne’s Watercolors

I have always found Cézanne’s watercolors a puzzle, which is why I don’t tire of them. But just today I think I’ve found a way to see them and to make them useful. Some of them are complete images in … Continue reading

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Unbounded Areas

In a picture, unbounded areas are interrupted by the picture edge, so their unboundedness is an illusion produced by the artist’s skill in organizing the closed forms within the picture (The Grid and the Rectangle). One has to suggest an … Continue reading

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Infinity

Infinity is a trope—for all the possibilities not realized, paths not taken, forms not shaped, decisions not made, choices not faced. It appears in art as the illusion of an unbounded area. That’s the good kind of infinity, an emptiness … Continue reading

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Reductive art history

Today I had a brief conversation with Richard Shiff. We share the view that most art history is quite reductive, that it narrows art to fit abstract theories rather than opening it up to experience. In my opinion, he is … Continue reading

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