“How do I judge art?” Paul asked the man who had introduced himself as Ambroise Vollard. “When I complete a painting, I take it and place it near a God-made thing, a tree or a flower; if it clashes, it’s not art.”
Paul Cezanne had failed every time he submitted his works to the Paris Salon for exhibition. The true artist cannot change his art in order to please the gallery. Art is not a commercial product. You paint according to your artistic taste and sensibility. If people can appreciate them, it’s good. Otherwise, it is still good. Follow your soul’s diktats.
Paul did just that. From 1864, when he was 25 years old, he submitted his paintings to the Salon for nearly two decades. Rejections did not cloud his soul. After all, his father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne was a successful banker and had left him enough money to live on. “I was lucky,” Paul explained to Vallard, “selling my paintings was not important to me. But the irony is that the Salon accepted one and only one painting of mine, in 1882, and that was a portrait of my father.” Paul smiled gently.
It had taken another 13 years for Ambroise Vollard, Parisian art dealer, to discover the genius of Paul Cezanne. “A revolution will start the day people begin to see a carrot in a fresh way,” Paul used to say.
Freshness of perception was Cezanne’s genius. “I’m going to organise a solo exhibition of your paintings,” said Vollard.
When Paul entered the gallery filled with his own paintings, he was surprised. “Look,” he said to his son, “they have framed them!”
“They deserve the frames, father,” said the son who knew that his father was not aware of his own greatness.
Post-Script: The exhibition catapulted Cezanne into fame. Today his paintings are exhibited in the best art galleries of the world. The Card Players, an iconic work by Cezanne, is currently the most expensive work of art ever sold. It was sold for more than $250 million in 2011.
|'The Card Players' by Cezanne|