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Cézanne: Still Life with Plaster Cast

Who would be an art historian?

As an art critic and art historian I spend a lot of time asking questions about works of art and trying to puzzle out answers. I also have a dream that one day I shall reach the "Great Studio in the Sky" where I shall meet the artists themselves and be able to ask my questions directly to them. No doubt on many occasions they will tell me that the answers that I have so carefully tried to work out are completely wrong, and I have totally misunderstood what they are trying to do. They will also no doubt tell me of the many things I have failed to observe even though they were staring me in the face. My consolation is that I shall be in good company with most other art critics and art historians.

This is a painting that poses many, many questions. Here are some of the questions that I ask when I stand in front of it, and the answers that I have tried to work out by looking at it closely and rummaging through my experience as an art critic and art historian. I am not saying that my answers are "correct". Indeed one of the messages from this painting is that there is no such thing as "correctness", and that what we see is constantly changing, and that there never is a moment when we can say that we have seen it all.

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