Monday, March 17, 2014

The Artist



Paul Cezanne
“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

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


16 comments:

  1. Sir, what exactly is freshness of perception. Is it a developed perception or comming back to our original perception ( a child like perception)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's both, Nishant. Every artist has a dominant child in him/her; but there is also the wisdom that comes from the experiences that only an adult can have.

      Delete
  2. Unfortunately, we writers are forced to write what currently sells. Go to any publisher. They aren't bothered about your plot or flow. They are more interested in what sells. But looked from their perspective, can they be held responsible for it? I don't think so. The same was the case with Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, Pankti, I don't agree at all. Any writer who writes for the sake of money is a mercenary. Art was never sold in the old cultures and civilsations. Art is beyond price. But our capitalist culture has converted everything into a commodity. They have bought up even writers, the saddest of all things that happened. Because buying up writers means buying up intelligence.

      Delete
    2. You are right in that aspect...what I meant is, in this era of materialism, I know few writers who give what their publishers want for the sake of their bread and butter, and then they write for themselves...unfortunately, it's their latter work that doesn't reach the public because none of the publishers are ready to publish it.

      And to be honest, I being a content writer by profession and fiction writer by hobby, I can't find fault with them. I too would write what my employers/publishers want (within reason) but I will keep on writing the things that I want for myself...I wouldn't care if that doesn't see the light of the day! Right now I'm working with a publisher. Let's see how much chance do I get to actually bring my work to the public as I wanted and not as my publisher wanted!

      Delete
  3. Hmm... Paul had great talent but he was lucky to have his father's wealth to accept the rejections and STILL paint.If he was not rich perhaps he'd have left painting in order to earn OR might have earned good and made less paintings but still painted..... whatever the case might be.. if you follow your instincts , there's a way to find .may be less but still you will be able to get what YOU WANTED. (in connection with this as well as your other post - Destiny )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Kokila, Paul would have painted even if he had not inherited his father's wealth, even if he had to live in misery for the sake of his art. Such was the integrity of artists in those days. Think of Vincent van Gogh or Paul Gauguin or other painters of the time.

      Destiny, yes, destiny plays a role in the life of people who are really artists and refuse to sell their souls.

      Delete
  4. Real artists are not aware of their greatness. The true artist cannot change his art to suit the gallery. Agree. Van Gogh too sold practically nothing in his lifetime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most painters of Van Gogh's time lived miserable lives, Nilanjana. For them their art was life, not money. Those were the days when integrity was valued, days which were not bought and sold at one night stands...

      Delete
  5. What a lovely post.... loved the thought behind it.. this esp. is a beautiful line *“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.”**
    I strive to do just this and not what others expect me to..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Seeta, for saying this. I'm an atheist for all practical purposes. Theoretically an agnostic. Yet I put the words of Cezanne in his own words without manipulating, because I consider myself an artist with integrity, an artist who has not sold my soul to capitalism. If we can continue to do what gives us genuine satisfaction (genuine is a dangerous word that needs a lot of explanation), we can make a far better world. Unfortunately, our writers and thinkers and artists are only interested in selling their wares today.

      Delete
  6. a nice post saying that anyone with a true passion for art can become a great artist ...it motivates everyone :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sow, for telling me that it is motivational. I did hope so. So your comment is encouraging.

      But not every artist in the time of Cezanne was so lucky. Most of them lived in misery. For the sake of their art. For the sake of their integrity. Today I come across so many frauds, especially in religion. Have you ever wondered why religion has become such a commodity today? Especially in politics?

      Delete
  7. Yes, an artist is the one who follows the voice of his heart. Art is not to please someone but if it pleases someone it makes the artist happier. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Precisely, Namrata. Just the point. But the artist must have the means to do it :)

      Delete