Meditations on Art: Paul Cezanne and the Apple

“I want to astonish Paris with an apple.” –Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne had almost no luck submitting work to be exhibited at the Paris Salon. He submitted work from 1863 to 1882 and only had one painting accepted in that time, in 1882. It’s hard to imagine now, that this important impressionist was scorned by the art world for so long.

Ink drawing of Paul Cezanne balancing an apple on his head by David Borden.
Paul Cezanne: "astonish with an apple!"
His perseverance is to be considered commendable or insane… quite possibly, both. I like to think of it a little differently. I think he was a man who had figured out what he was doing… certainly not his style (which fluctuated over his career), but his inner drive.

He wanted to astonish Paris with an apple. 

He wanted to take a simple thing like the apple, and paint it over and over. He didn’t paint religious subjects or Greek gods, which were considered the highest, noblest things to paint. Instead, he painted landscapes and still life—lowly, common, banal subjects not worthy of the Salon. But that’s the point, isn’t it?

We should all aspire to astonish with an apple. It's the ability to elevate the mundane to the sublime that transforms us. Too easily we take the quiet, simple stalwarts of life for granted. In the case of the apple, we snack on it with little reverence for its color, aroma, or texture. It is just another consumer product, grown in large, corporate farms, packaged in factories, and sold in cavernous, air-conditioned, fluorescent supermarkets.

But each apple, like a portrait, has its own landscape of skin and palate of scents and tastes. Next time you pick up an apple, feel its weight in your hand, breathe its subtle fragrances, and let yourself remember the apples that have come before this one. Then, take the time to eat it, one bite at a time. Indulge in it the way you would pause by a moving work of art in a world class art gallery.

#cezanne #paulcezanne #art #apples #impressionist #impressionism


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