Abstract Canvas Prints No 72 : The Door to Modernism had been Opened
Had this been the limit to his enquiries, Cézanne would have remained a part of the Impressionist movement to which he had belonged, his paintings were included in the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874.
But the cantankerous Post-Impressionist chose to complicate matters further by also worrying about how he saw.
He realised around 130 years ago that Sing is not believing: it is to question.
It was a philosophical insight that links the end of the Entitlement’s Age of Reason with the 20th century’s Age of Modernism. And in the recent work of David Hockney, to the art of the 21st century.
It was the insight that would change the face of art. And like many flashes of genius, Cézannes’s revelation is not only simple, but also staggeringly obvious.
We humans, Cézanne reasoned, have binocular vision: we have two eyes.
What is more, our left and right eyes do not record identical visual information, although our brain amalgamate the two into one image.
Each eye sees things slightly differently. Added to which, we have an inclination to fidget.
When we examine an object we move about: we crane our neck, lean to the side, bend forwards, and raise ourselves up.
And yet art was, and is, almost exclusively produced as if seen through a single, static lens.
That, Cézanne deduced, was the problem with the art of his time and of the past: it failed to represent how we truly see, which is not from one perspective, but from at least two.
The door to modernism had been opened.