The ‘Burden of Exegesis’

‘Cold-thinned light’: Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from Les Lauves, 1904. Private collection.

There is almost nothing to see, and yet everything is there.

(Laura Cumming)

Cumming gives a lyrical account of her responses to Cezanne. (I learn from her that the artist dropped the acute accent from his name in his signature.) She mentions specifics of his practice: … extraordinary whites that are not white at all… There is a watercolour here where the only indication of the lemon on a tray is a shapely blank, touched with a yellow dab; which is all, and more, than you need.

She has much to say about his brushwork: … short, straight strokes, something like striations or the delicate marks of a chisel in wood… Sometimes… more like stippling, dappling or ribboning stripes… How curious it is that these straight strokes are constantly required to account for the world’s roundness… The desire to touch the paintings is acute: to run your finger along his brushstrokes and understand their movement…

“I have never heard an admirer [of Cezanne]… give me a clear and precise account of his admiration.”

(Maurice Denis)

Cumming concludes with a noteworthy phrase: “It is worth remembering Denis’s remark to release yourself from the burden of exegesis at Tate Modern.” [my bolding]

(Laura Cumming, “Cezanne review — a mesmerising master of everyday mystery,”, 10-9-22)

(c) 2022 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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