Abstract Canvas Prints No 73 : The Artistic Revolution Begins
Cézanne tackled the issue head-on by making paintings that presented the subject scene from two different angles, from the side and front, for instance.
Take, for example, Still Life with Apples and Peaches (1905).
It is typical of the hundreds of others still lifes he produced over his 40 year career, in which similar objects have been arranged in a comparable way and depicted by the artist in his dual perspective style, or painting with both eyes as Hockney put it.
In this particular picture he has placed several apples and peaches on the right hand side of a small wooden table.
Some have been stacked into a pyramidal structure on a plate, while others, positioned nearer the table’s outer edge, are loose.
An empty blue, yellow and white vase sit at the back of the table, behind the apples and peaches.
Next to the fruit, covering the left two-thirds of the tables top, is a piece of draped cotton material, probably a curtain, on which a blue and muddy-yellow flowery pattern has been printed.
The material is bunched up on the table, arrange to accentuate it’s deep folds and creases, in which one red apple nestles like a baseball in a catchers glove.
The cloth is weighed down by a cream-colour jug at the back of the table, placed on the left-hand side, opposite the vase.
So far, so traditional.
But then the artistic revolution begins.
Cézanne has painted the jug from two different perspectives: one in the profile at eye-level, the other from above looking down its neck.
The same applies to the small wooden table, the top of which Cézanne has tilted towards the viewer by about 20° in order to show more of the apples and peaches, also painted from two angles.
If the rules of mathematical perspective as established in the Renaissance were applied, the fruit would be rolling off the table and tumbling to the floor.
But prospectives loss was truth’s gain. That is how we see.
The view Cézanne is presenting is a composite of the different angles we all enjoy when studying a scene.
He’s also trying to convey another truth about how we take in visual information.
If we see 12 apples stacked up on a plate we did not read what is in front of us as 12 individual apples, we register a single unit, plate full of apples.
Which meant, for Cézanne, that the overall design of the whole tableau was of more importance than the component parts.