Cézanne, Art & Poetry

Entrance to Atelier, upstairs 


“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.”
Paul Cézanne

Fete de Cézanne

While visiting Aix-en-Provence in 2006, I had the good fortune to arrive at the beginning of fête de Cézanne. Paul Cézanne 1839 – 1906, a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter. His work was instrumental in bridging the transition from 19th century Impressionism and 20th century’s line of enquiry, Cubism.

Born in the town of Aix-en-Provence, he had a fondness for painting Mont Sainte-Victoire. He left over 60 paintings of the mountain. His studio remains as he left it. Now owned by the University, it is maintained as if he just stepped out. Even the basket of ripening apples is kept so that there is fruit in each stage and the aroma permeates the room. Over a hundred years since his death and his spirit lingers large. The grounds that surround the studio are a maze of paths dotted with work by students. I must admit to visiting more than once and it remains one of my two favorite places I have visited since first visiting France. While I do appreciate the policy of no cameras inside the studio, I do wish I had photos of it to share. You will just have to visit it yourself!

Upon returning to California from the first visit, I was approached by my friend Carol. Carol, an artist, was putting together a limited edition art book with a grant from the Art’s Council. As we talked, she asked me about art & France. I told her that “art is the loom the tapestry we know as France is woven upon.” She asked if she could quote me. Bien sur! (of course) Then she told me that she would require a poem from me that would speak of art & France. That was what brought about the writing of the poem below.

Dans le jardin de Cézanne
Paul CézanneAtelier Cézanne
Meditations on Visiting Atelier Cézanne
One hundred years
After his death
The doors to his shrine
Open to the masses
I but a privileged pilgrim
A witness – I inhale deeply
The plethora of scent
Ageing fruits
A wicker basket
Darkened by harvests of the past
*
A long shelf balanced
Across the western wall
Dusquenoy’s cupid keeps company
With the three skulls of death
Enlightenment radiates
From the northern exposure
A burst of light
Color spreads wantonly
I am humbled in each direction
*
Le choeur fantôme
Intones hymns of praise
Peaches, apples and pears
Whisper of fields they have known
An old apple dreams of freshness
Home is Aix-en-Provence
Sainte-Victorie
He paints their secrets
With celestial vision
And transparency
 –
Bisous,
Léa
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