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Being in Cezanne and Matisse

Richard Barone

Blog #25 of 30




June 8th, 2012 - 08:07 AM

Being in Cezanne and Matisse

Merleau-Ponty says that the “prosaic line” reappears in Matisse but it is not a problem because the colors dominate. I suggest that Matisse outlined his objects in black because he wanted to demystify their “objectness” as mysteriously present on a flat, two-dimensional surface. The line acts as a border between objects; it sets them apart, individualizes them—the necessary consequence of the flat canvas. It also enhances the contours of objects, making them more volumetric without using traditional shading. It limits the horizon. One cannot go around the object to its side. Its aspects are limited to what one sees head-on. Thus, one comes closer to realizing the wholeness of its being. This is also the reason why Paul Cezanne confined his objects to the dimensions (limits) of the canvas. Things are not cut off at the edges. Everything points inward. The eye is not directed away from it suggesting unknowable aspects of the scene. He wanted to capture what it means to be. It is a very honest approach. In later paintings (those that affected the modernists most) there comes an absence of shadow. This still life of 1893 is a good example. Impressionists liked shadows, for in them they could show colors other than gray. But Cezanne denied his paintings shadows, for they would indicate a light source outside the frame of the canvas. Having no reference to an external light source, the painting becomes more self-referential, more alive within itself.

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