Cézanne at the Barnes

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and Pears, 1891-92, oil on canvas, 17 5/8 x
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and Pears, 1891-92, oil on canvas, 17 5/8 x 23 1/8 inches

Charles Kessler blogs about the exhibition The World Is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, on view through September 22, 2014.

Kessler writes: "Except for Cézanne's early dark, heavily impasto paintings, I don’t see his work as solid, heavy and immobile, the way they're usually described. Just the opposite. I experience them as unstable, weightless volumes of elusive, colored light... Bottles are asymmetrical, tables are tilted up, the composition changes point of view, volumes flatten out (probably because they are often outlined in black), and figure and ground sometimes merge. All these thing create tension because the mind seeks harmony and balance, and when it’s not there, the brain will create it. From the corner of my eye, I often see the illusion of objects – apples, plates, bottles, etc. – move. The forms seem to wobble, float and shift in space. At minimum, I feel the tension."