Thursday, September 25, 2014

Evolution Revolution

Happy Art History Thursday!  Can you guess who we will be talking about today?

But first, I just want to say.  There are some artists out there who are constantly fretting about finding "their style" of painting or sculpture or ...whatever it is they create and I say...stop it! 

Instead.  Relax!  Through your lifetime create and create and create - do it the way that it is in your heart to do it.  To put constraints upon what you do because you have been convinced by someone(s) - or you just think so yourself - that what your work looks like today is what your collectors expect and want and so on...could very well be limiting your contribution to art and the evolution of your work and to the whole world of art while you are here. 

If you are thinking those thoughts I say: Don't Do It! - look at those thoughts squarely in the eye and then...stage a Revolution!  Imagine if the Beatles just kept writing songs like "It's Been a Hard Day's Night" and never wrote "Across the Universe" or "Let it Be"?

What if the artist who painted this picture continued to paint like this all his life?
Well, and why not?  It's a very nice picture, don't you think? 

Can you believe that 22 years later the same painter painted this same scene and it looked like this?
These paintings were both created by Paul Cézanne - they are of Mont Sainte-Victoire in the south of France. 

I want to share with you an excerpt from a wonderfully written article which was published in The Guardian written by
Cézanne immortalised the Mont Sainte-Victoire 87 times –
and even purpose-built his studio to ensure a good view of it.
Photograph: Kevin Rushby
. . . . For our brief overnight stop in Aix, I'm determined to visit Cézanne's studio (, purpose-built so the artist could easily view his mountain. His tiny house has miraculously survived much as he left it: his hat is on the peg, his backpack waits by the chair, and on the wooden desk stands his last wine beaker, dry and purple-stained. It is as though the man has simply flown from the window and is out there with the nightingales. All around are objects recognizable from his paintings: the olive jar, the wooden rosary, the empty bottles and the armless cherub figurine, mundane objects that he transformed into thrilling and potent images.
Cézanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from la Route du Tholonet.
Photograph: The Gallery Collection/Corbis
During Cézanne's life, few people, a handful only, came to this place. He had abandoned the art world of Paris and been depicted as a failure by his former friend Emile Zola in the 1886 novel L'Oeuvre.
Our guide to the artist's studio, Gabriel, makes a face: "After that, the two men never spoke again."
Gabriel shows us the extra-tall door in a corner of the room, which allowed Cézanne to take big canvases outside to paint in natural light: "He lived on an allowance from his father then, when the father died, Cézanne inherited everything."
Cézanne's stubborn refusal to give up on painting must have been particularly annoying to his parent, a self-made man and bastion of the local bourgeoisie. No one liked the young Cézanne's works, except the occasional maverick American. At one point some citizens of Aix actually asked their unwanted artist to leave. Sales of his paintings were so rare that the lower room of this one-up-one-down house became choked with canvases.
In the upstairs studio, I find a chest of drawers under the north window that contains souvenirs, photographs and mementoes, among them a letter written to Claude Monet and the clay pipe that features in The Card Players.
Cézanne's studio in Aix. Photograph: Kevin Rushby
Last year, over a century after Cézanne died, it was reported that one of the five versions of this painting sold at auction for over $250m. It's a shame, I reflect, looking down at that cheap clay pipe, that his father didn't live to see the moment when his son's painting became the most expensive the world has ever seen. Mind you, if he had, he would also have witnessed his grandson selling off those treasures for a few francs in the days after Paul died.
Leaving the studio we set off up the hill to find the viewpoint where Cézanne painted many of those Mont Sainte-Victoire pictures. Like the studio, it is still much as he found it: a fabulous panorama of pantiled rooftops and cypress trees stretching out across rolling hills to the spectacular peak topped by an enormous cross. One local who spied on the old white-bearded painter reported that his technique could be highly unorthodox. He once got so angry with his failure to render the sublime colours and forms that he grabbed a nearby rock and smashed it through the canvas. . . . .
Now I'm going to have to check my passport, make sure it hasn't expired and make arrangements to go to the south of France this summer with my dear sweet hardworking husband.  I don't think he'll mind.

Here are some other nice things to read about this area of France and more about Cézanne painting Mont Sainte-Victoire:,82,1,a879.htm

So that is our Art History Thursday today.  Next Thursday it will be October!  Hard to believe.

Hope your day is full of creative goodness and maybe a classic butter croissant (or two) ...something I am suddenly craving...  :)

'Til tomorrow!


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