I am speaking now of Paul
Cézanne. It is not on the road to Damascus that he
finds enlightenment, but rather in Père Tanguy's
shop – it is in some ways the “cradle of modern
art”. We can picture him, little Père Tanguy, as
Saint Joseph, with straw in his shoes, and Cézanne
with his creed of turning impressionism into a solid art like that found in museums. His
method of reaching his goal is to react as Poussin
did to nature by treating everything in terms of
the cylinder and the sphere.
Here I must point something out that is not
insignificant. To consider Poussin through the
lens of geometry is a complete misinterpretation.
One of Poussin's aspirations was to give painting
the weightiness characteristic of sculpture. It is a
question of density and depth, not of form. With
Poussin, volume comes from shadow. One only
has to look at his drawings. It explains the great
trouble he goes to in order to create a composition
with these tiny figures. But for the two bishops,
Pablo and Georges, cubes and cylinders are a godsend.
Picasso said of Cézanne: “He is our beloved
Now, if you do not mind, let us shift our
thoughts to a few months ago in time, and in
space you find yourself with me in my kitchen in
the midst of washing up my bowl. Washing up my
bowl, sweeping my doorstep – this is my daily routine, as well as
listening to the news on the radio; all of a sudden,
the President of the Salon des indépendants
is speaking. He says, “We have done something
extraordinary this year,” and adds, “but there is a very
curious thing: if we take one away, we can no longer understand anything.”
Obviously I understand him, the dear chap.
The liberties taken by some allow others to take
more, so if one is removed, the whole lot falls to
pieces. And now, I ask, what happens if we pull
the rug out from under Cézanne?
In truth, painting has nothing to do with lists of rational forms, but rather bears
witness to the soul, for the soul.