Monday, June 20


Apples and Biscuits by Paul Cézanne
Apples and Biscuits by Paul Cézanne

Newton discovered his laws of gravity because of a falling apple; Cézanne in Apples and Biscuits introduced the possibility that Newton's conception was incomplete by painting apples that should fall but did not. More than any other artist, Cézanne exhaustively studied the essence of "apple." It has been said that he painted more apples than he could ever have consumed in a lifetime. Cézanne's representations of apples surreptitiously repealed Newton's laws of gravity. Many of his still lifes contain a table full of apples, the fruit precariously perched on a surface that is obviously tilted. Why don't the apples roll off? By insinuating into his canvases mountains that lose mass and apples that do not fall, Cézanne undermined the classical concepts of mass and space. And he did so a full generation before the scientific community discovered that the paradigm of mass, space, and gravity had to be revised.

Cézanne can be credited with changing the way the artist envisioned the relationship of space and mass. His accumulated insights departed radically from the precepts of the academic tradition. Space, no longer an empty stage upon which an artist merely presented objects, was now affected by the mass of those objects, which in turn were altered by the space in their vicinity. Many of Cézanne's works do not sharply delineate a boundary between space and mass because the boundary is an interactive tensile interface.

-- Leonard Shlain Art & Physics