Landscapes / The Sainte-Victoire Mountain
“I go to the countryside every day, the views are beautiful and I thus spend my time more agreeably here than anywhere else.
Paintings created indoors, in the studio, will never be equal to ones painted in the open air. In representing outdoor scenes, the juxtapositions of the figures and the land are astonishing, and the landscapes are splendid. I see superb things, and I need to resolve to create only in the open air.
Everything, especially in art, is theory developed and applied in contact with nature.
Indeed, one speaks of painting and perhaps better while on the topic, than by devising purely speculative theories, in which one is rather often misled.
Couture said to his pupils “choose good places to visit”, that is to say “Go to the Louvre”. But after having seen the great masters whose works hang there, one must make haste to leave and bring to life in oneself, in contact with nature, the artistic instincts and feelings that live within us.
Treat nature as cylinders, spheres, and cones, with the whole scene put in perspective, that is to say that each side of an object, of a plane, moves towards a central point. The lines parallel to the horizon give width … the lines perpendicular to the horizon provide depth. Nature, for us men, is deeper than wide, from whence arises the need to introduce into our vibrations of light, represented by reds and yellows, a sufficient amount of blues, to give a sense of the air.
Art is a harmony in parallel with nature – what must one think of the imbeciles who say that the artist is always inferior to nature? “
“In an orange, an apple, a ball, a head, there is a culminating point;
and this point is always – despite of the terrible light and shadow’s effects, coloring perceptions – closer to our eye; the edges of the objects run towards a center point placed at our horizon.
Objects penetrate each other… They do not stop living… They spread themselves imperceptibly, interweaving by intimate reflections, like we are by our looking and our words. It is believed that a sugar bowl does not have an expression, a soul. But that changes every day too. It is necessary to learn how to approach them and coax them, these funny beings… These glasses, these plates, they speak to each other. Interminable confidences… Flowers, I gave up on. They wilt and fade immediately. Fruit is more faithful. Fruit likes to pose for a portrait. It sits there as if asking for your forgiveness for discolorations.
A sugar bowl teaches us as much about ourselves and our art as a Chardin or a Monticelli and it is more colorful. These are the scenes which become still lifes. Everything is brighter than our canvases, and I have only to open my window to have the most beautiful Poussin and most beautiful Monet in the world “.
“I would like to marry the woman’s curves to the shoulders of the hills.”
“Having nudes pose at the banks of the Arc pleased me well enough… A Poussin from Provence that would fit me like a glove… Twenty times I wanted to revisit the motif Ruth and Booz… Ah! The Poussin’s arabesque. He knew it in detail, that one. In the Bacchanales of London, in the Flora of the Louvre, where the line of the bodies and the landscape begins and ends… There is only one. There is no center. Me, with my Bathers, I would like a sort of hole, a ray of light, an invisible sun that oversees all my bodies, that bathes them, caresses them, and intensifies them… in the middle.
But the center? I cannot find the center… It is not that… And then, to arrange it in the open air… I certainly tried, when the soldiers bathed in the river, to walk along the Arc to see the contrasts, the tones of flesh on green… But it is another thing entirely, it does not speak to me at all, it can give me nothing compared to my women… “.
Portraits / The cards’ players
Portrait painting is the end result of art
“I prepared the chair for the pose myself! Oh you do not risk falling in the least, Mr. Vollard, as long as you maintain your balance. In any case when posing, you are not to move. I’m telling you, in truth, you must hold yourself like an apple. Does an apple stir and move?”
“If my afternoon session in the Louvre is good, if the weather tomorrow is lightly gray, perhaps I could find the right hue to fill these blank canvases, on the spot. If I put something there randomly, I would be forced to take back all my work and depart from this place.”
“After over a hundred painting hours, Cezanne gave up on my portrait to return to Aix. “I am not dissatisfied with the front of the shirt” he told me in departing. “On my return, I will have made some progress. Understand a little, Mr. Vollard, the contour escapes me”.
To manage to formulate sufficiently the feelings that we feel in contact with this beautiful nature – man, woman, still life – and that the circumstances suit you, is what I must wish any art lover”.