Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1900
Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1900

Cezanne painted this mountain in France so much it came to be known as Cezanne’s Mountain. Why did he obsess over this one mountain? Maybe it was convenient. Maybe it was interesting to him, charged with personal meaning that we don’t know about. Or maybe it didn’t matter that it was a mountain. Maybe he was making some sort of point about abstraction; you can look at anything and see it a little differently each time. You know what I see? I see a landscape sketched loosely onto a canvas and filled with beautiful colors with much attention paid to the values of the colors. I believe Cezanne was very interested in colors and their relations to each other.

I had a college art professor who was very interested in color, to the point that his obsession drove me away from an interest in color studies. But as the years go by, I see the wisdom in his approach. The more exactly we can see something, the more freedom we have to paint what we like. An inexperienced eye might see Cezanne’s painting as sloppy. It is probably very exact and calculated. I think Cezanne is an artist who paints on the bridge between realism and abstraction.


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