Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Cezanne Speaks to Me


Paul Cezanne
Still life with skull.

     He had just handed over the down payment of his new studio to the realtor who greedily took his money. He had waited a long time for this moment, when he could finally own a place to call his own, a place where his art could feel safe and at peace. Putting everyone away in their canvas bags and hauling them from place to place had taken it's toll on him; his paintings were his friends; Matisse, Dali, Picasso, O'Keefe, Cezanne. Each had claimed a place in his heart, forever. 
     The walls were bare and the floors dusty. There was no furniture, not even a side table, to occupy the magnificence of those four walls. He looked around and there, to his left, right below the ceiling-kissed window, he saw it: the perfect spot to hang his favorite friend. It was that spot on the musty wall that would forever be the permanent home to Cezanne. Forget furniture, forget cleaning up before the dust claimed his lungs, putting up that picture was the only thing on his mind. 
     As he stood there, admiring the beauty of his creative and awe inspired decision, he could not have come up with a better resting place. It was a depiction of his life, his work, his everything. The death of one that led to the birth of the other. 

     Before I begin my analyses I have to clarify that I am a Creative Writing major and writing a story, of any sort, in 100 words just can't be done. =P

     If we took a formalistic approach, all we would say was that there is no transcendent meaning to the discipline other than the literal content being created. In other words, there is nothing to this painting except the paint, the canvas and the actual picture created. There is no story behind the painting and there is no hidden meaning. Structuralism says otherwise.
     Structuralism is a theory in which human culture and various disciplines within it are analyzed semiotically (meaning they are analyzed as a system of signs and symbols). Structuralism argues that any specific domain of culture may be understood by means of a structure that is distinct both from the organizations of reality and those of ideas or the imagination. The reason for all of this ambiguity is because structuralism is largely known as a meta-thought process, which means it is a thought process behind the initial thought process. What I mean by this is that beneath everything in a certain discipline, the foundation of every system is its structure. For example, Foucault is employing structuralism when he analyzes sex during the Victorian Era as a linguistic function of repression. His main method is genealogy but the method behind that method is structuralism. The same can be said about a painting. 
     When creating a painting, every artist approaches the canvas and their colors differently. No one piece of art is ever the same, even when looking at works from the same artist. They have similar qualities throughout all their work but there is no imitation of one piece in another. They analyze what’s around them: politics, people, actions, thoughts, scenes; everything has been taken into consideration to create a painting. A picture paints a thousand words they say, and an artist does just that when they put all that they have analyzed onto a strip of canvas. However, beneath all that, beneath all the freedom in color, shapes and brush strokes and patterns there is an underlying structure ruling them all. The structure of painting, never fully observed in the colors and shades of the paint in the pictures, takes it’s backseat and lets the driver steer the wheel, or the brush in this case, wherever the artist pleases, but at the same time never leaving the boundaries of what that structure has set forth. With everything good and pleasant, there is an underlying system that sets forth the rules for what can and can’t be done to avoid chaos and in turn, creates beauty.

Word Count: 673


  1. I didn't get a chance to write my post for last week but I'm going to get on top of that this week, along with this week's post as well. Don't worry =)