Cézanne, art history and all that jazz…

I’m sure I’ve already mentioned it but just in case I haven’t, my first module with the OU is called ‘The Arts Past and Present‘ it’s supposed to introduce you to a wide area of topics in the arts (history, classics, art history, religion, literature etc…).

I don’t officially start the module until 4th October but I decided to get as much initial reading out of the way so I can participate fully without getting left behind. Book 1 is all about ‘Reputations’ and the first TMA* is about Cleopatra and Cézanne (in two separate questions, combining them would be a bit of a headfuck methinks ;-)).

I read through the chapter on good ol’ Cleo and did the activities (quite fun), feeling confident I decided to move onto the chapter on Cézanne for two reasons (1) I know nothing about art and get a little intimidated by those clever boffins who understand it all, and (2) I fucking hate ‘modern’ art. With a passion. I mean it.

I like grand sweeping paintings where there’s a story or something interesting going on, where everything has been put there for a reason and is full of little details… modern art seems to be all squiggles and not bothering to put character or personality into things (I like some of the surreal stuff [Salvador Dali and George Grie mainly]). Doesn’t mean I’m not going to put the effort in, I have a feeling I’m going to put more effort in just to annoy myself… even planning to go to the National Gallery to see some Cézanne’s pictures in the flesh (I’m in London, I may as well take advantage of all the free stuff).

So with that in mind, I settled down tonight to put in a few hours reading (and looking at pictures) and as I got towards to the main focus of the chapter (art history) I’m becoming more and more aware of something: art history is all about talking bollocks. Seriously. Just look at some of the terms:-

Delineation: the representation of shapes and details by means of drawing.
Picture Space: the virtual world within which all a picture’s represented contents are contained.
Picture Plane: the frontier between the virtual world and the actual world in which the viewer stands.

0_0

(I did rather like the explanation of shading, as someone who has spent a lot of time studying lighting design and the ways of lighting objects it did make me chuckle. The most complicated terms we have in theatre involve breasts. I kid you not.)

The question I have to answer is: Look carefully at ‘The House of the Hanged Man at Auvers’, 1872 – 1873, by Paul Cézanne. In not more than 500 words, explain why you think this painting was dismissed so scathingly by some critics when it was exhibited with the Independents in 1874.

I really don’t like the idea of forming an answer that talks about picture planes and picture spaces, I know that’s what they’ll want to see (a demonstration that I understand and can use the terms and language appropriate to the field of study) but I’m not sure I can go there :-S
I wonder if “because it was crap” is a valid answer…. ummm…

*tutor marked assigment — oooh er missus, get me and the official lingo 😛

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9 comments

  1. abbie

    Just read the above comment-hahaha! what a laugh…just started this assignment myself and oh my god-you don’t half talk sense…i dunno where the hell to start! i’ve rambled on for 385 words on the cezanne question and i can’t do anymore rambling so, i’m stuck!!! lol x

  2. Moomin

    you are so right lmao I am fucked with this essay lol!!! Also, do you really think his still life apples are supposed to represent society? What a load of bollocks lol!!

  3. Moomin

    you are so right lmao I am fucked with this essay lol!!! Also, do you really think his still life apples are supposed to represent society? What a load of bollocks lol!!

  4. lisa

    ThANK GOD FOR THAT THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME
    MY INITIAL THOUGHT WAS ALSO “COS ITS CRAP”
    WELL YOU BOTH JUST MADE ME CHUCKLE LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING MY ASSIGNMENT THOUGHT WITH YOU
    LISA IN MANCHESTER X

  5. lisa

    ThANK GOD FOR THAT THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME
    MY INITIAL THOUGHT WAS ALSO “COS ITS CRAP”
    WELL YOU BOTH JUST MADE ME CHUCKLE LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING MY ASSIGNMENT THOUGHT WITH YOU
    LISA IN MANCHESTER X

  6. Moomin

    Hi – just to let you know I have found this brilliant website and a collection of essays that make all this art history stuff much more coherent. Here is the link: http://www.galilean-library.org/site/index.php?/page/index.html/_/essays/art/

    If you have a read through the essays from 1 onwards, they start to make sense, although not totally about Cezanne, it gives a better explanation of the stuff in the books which is really badly explained in my opinion.

  7. Jon

    just read your comment on cezanne and it cracked me up, i am also on the same course and have just started going through the Cezanne chapter and you are right art is bollocks and i’m just wondering if i could get away with ‘because it was crap’ as an answer, otherwise i am completely clueless on this subject!!

  8. Lea

    OMG I so agree, touble is I cant begin to work it out cuz 1 line in and my eyes glaze over and I wanna go sleep!! even during the tutorial I spent 2 hrs stiffling yawns! and I need to have this done and emailed for friday. I could seriously use some help with writing this.

  9. Molly55

    Completely agree, love art, but not this stuff, essay sounded good but scored v bad, wondering whether to continue…..

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