Cézanne could not draw…

Visitors to “Cézanne Drawing” at the Museum of Modern Art may be astonished to learn that critics once complained that the late 19th-century French artist could not draw. With about 280 graphite, ink and gouache drawings and watercolors—over a third of them from private collectors—and a handful of related oil paintings, the staggeringly beautiful show proves otherwise. Organized by Jodi Hauptman, senior curator at MoMA, and associate curator Samantha Friedman, it also argues convincingly that Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), a foundational painter of modern art, produced his most radical work on paper.

The exhibition, arranged in broad, thematic terms, opens with loose study sheets and pages from the artist’s sketchbooks. Cézanne drew almost daily over the course of his career, using standard studio materials, and produced more than 2,000 extant works on paper. Though they rarely served as straightforward preparations for his oil paintings, his drawings pull us directly into his potent creative orbit…

After a dark year of building walls between ourselves and the world, “Cézanne Drawing” invites us to discover at an exhilaratingly intimate range the luminous genius of an artist whose work remains as rewarding as it is demanding.

— Mary Tompkins Lewis, from “‘Cézanne Drawing’ Review: Radical With a Pencil” (wsj.com, June 21, 2021)


Notes: 1) Paul Cezanne ‘Still Life with Cut Watermelon’ (c. 1900), 2) Cézanne’s ‘Coat on a Chair’ (1890-92).

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I have also, I think, learnt what it is to love: being capable, not of ‘exaggerated’ initiatives, of always going one better, but of being thoughtful in relation to others, respecting their desires, their rhythms, never demanding things but learning to receive and to accept every gift as a surprise, and being capable, in a wholly unassuming way, of giving and of surprising the other person without the least coercion. To sum up, it is a question simply of freedom. Why did Cézanne paint the Montagne Saint-Victoire at every available moment? Because the light of each moment is a gift.

So, despite its dramas, life can still be beautiful. I am sixty-seven, and though it will soon be over, I feel younger now than I have ever done, never having had any youth since no one loved me for myself.

Yes, the future lasts a long time.

Louis Althusser, The Future Lasts Forever: A Memoir


Notes:

  • Painting: “Paul Cézanne: La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” via Culturium
  • Quote via “Alive on All Channels
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
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