Principles of Nature: towards a new visual language
Wayne Roberts © 2003

Cézanne's late Mont Ste Victoire paintings and the origins of abstraction

The web pages of this section of the site are largely based upon (or quoted from) the chapter, Connections between 20th century art & science, in my book, Principles of nature; towards a new visual language (W. Roberts, 2003). The book also contains reproductions of related historical artworks not included on the web site.

Cézanne's imagery was certainly becoming more irregular in one way, and yet more regular in another. The edges of his brushstrokes quite often defined ambiguous suggestible forms and seem to simultaneously mark out another sort of metaphysical ‘edge’—that bifurcation between the physical world of objects (plainly visible to the untrained eye), and on the other hand, a more subtle ‘Platonic’ realm discerned only after much study of Nature and by the ‘inner eye’—of overarching rhythms and of a song in which every form (or part) is a word, a note within a melodic passage or a symphonic chord. His mature works ... reveal a consciousness of this latter interconnectedness of Nature. ‘Positive and negative space’ becomes simply, ‘ space’. The rooftops of Aix become the ‘x’ of possibility, the ‘x’ of multiple realities. The rocky facets of Mont-Ste-Victoire are much less solid; but the sky is much more solid. Everything is moving towards a middle ground of common purpose and common meaning. A form sings its note only for the sake of the song. Its form is not anathema to otherness or other forms. Form is influenced, and even defined, by its context. In late Cézanne , we find the early signs of scale structures: diversity organising itself into geometries, colours, tones, and rhythms; like choppy seas yielding to the relentless rhythms of breakers on the shores of consciousness. (W. Roberts, 2003, p. 65-66)


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