On Edges and Errors

Cézanne’s “Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit,” from 1906. Thingness magnetized the artist. Art work courtesy the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection / Art Resource, NY. [New Yorker caption]

Two descriptions in this article about Cézanne are helpful for me.

One concerns Camille Pissarro’s treatment of edges:

Pissarro was the subtlest of the leading Impressionists, devising ways of giving distinctive presence to each part of a painting, by, for example, defining the edges of objects with the paint that surrounded them. For him, an edge was a place where paint didn’t stop but only changed color.

This supports a leeriness I picked up somewhere at using hard outlining in painting — no more defensible a stance, of course, than any other hideboundedness respecting style or technique.

The second concerns Cézanne’s approach to drawing:

Cézanne was fearless of error. You see that in his figure drawings from sculpture. If a contour isn’t quite right, he doesn’t correct it (the one drafting tool that he seems never to have employed is the eraser): he multiplies it, with lines on top of lines. (There’s accuracy in there somewhere.)

The approach woos me away from some of the terror of error in drawing, though I’m led to wonder if “accuracy” is precisely, or all of, what Cézanne strove for. (?)

(Peter Schjeldahl, “My Struggle With Cézanne,” The New Yorker, 6-21-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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