Monday, April 8, 2019
Inspired by Cézanne: Apples

Now that I've finished reading Danchev's bio of Cézanne, I'm now perusing Cézanne: Metamorphoses, edited by Alexander Eiling. I'm fortunate that Yuma Library has this large heavy book, so there will be no storage problems or cost incurred for my explorations.

I got about halfway through the plates, when I came across a familiar one. Julia and I saw these apples in person back in 2010 when Phoenix Art Museum hosted the "Cézanne and American Modernism" exhibit:

12.1 x 25.5cm
Private collection

It is a small painting, only about ten inches wide. But it packs a big impact. The book tells how the Stein siblings fought over this one. Leo gladly rendered all the Picassos to Gertrude, as she happily let go of the Renoirs to Leo. But they both wanted this one. Leo grabbed it, just grabbed it, and told her she'd have to live with its loss "as an act of God". (Prestel; Translation edition (January 23, 2018), Footnotes, page 255)

If I had it, I wouldn't let go of it, either.

The book goes on to explain how Cézanne got inspired by Chardin:

The Silver Cup (Le gobelet d'argent
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (French, 16991779)
Oil on Canvas Height: 33 cm (12.9"); Width: 41 cm (16.1")
Louvre, #MI 1042
Photo Source: Wikimedia

Cézanne went often to the Louvre to learn from the masters, so it's certain he would have seen Chardin's painting. He simplified his own composition, (Bye bye silver goblet, with its lustrous reflections!) just to focus on the apples. (But what apples!)

Cézanne is often quoted as saying, "With an apple, I will astonish Paris!" Or more exactly "Avec une pomme, proclaimait-il, je veux étonner Paris", as quoted in the footnotes, page 255.

Picasso wanted in on the game. Rather than five apples, he hoped to do it with just one:

Pablo Picasso, Apple, 1914, watercolor, private collection

Picasso's apple looks to me to be sour and hard.

There's been three apples aging on one of our shelves for some time. I can't look at them without thinking of Cézanne. This morning was the day to enter the apple competition. I can't say my efforts are "astonishing", but I think I did better than Picasso, if I may say so!

Joan Ann Lansberry, Three Apples, 2019, colored pencils...

Another thing I've learned, always initial and date your art. The historians have been having a terrible time figuring out just when Cézanne did anything. They usually give a guestimate spanning three to five years!

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