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Cézanne: Still Life with Plaster Cast

Details: The tilting floor, the outlines and the paintings

Why does the floor tilt?

Cézanne has rejected the perspective system of the Renaissance and all subsequent art. To the left of the plaster cupid he is looking across (not down) towards the wall of the studio. These changes of position and viewpoint can give his works a disjointed appearance, but this is so only if we presuppose that a picture has to have a fixed and logical perspective system.

Why are there so many different outlines?

The fruit on the table has many different outline marks, each one precise and each one different. They show the care with which Cézanne recorded his perception, and bear witness to the fact that he never removed a mark once he had made it. Cézanne spent so long working on a painting that the fruit often rotted in the bowl before he had finished. Towards the end of his life he dispensed with real fruit, and used plaster imitation fruit that would not rot.

Why has he included the paintings propped up in the corner of his studio?

Cézanne shows the corner of his studio, including paintings propped against the wall. Conventional still life paintings always kept the existence of the studio well hidden. Cézanne takes us literally into the studio and shows us the whole process of his artistic activity. Similarly we normally never see the existence of a television studio or the cameraman. We normally only see what the camera lens records - which is one sort of reality. Sometimes, however, we are presented with a view of the whole studio so that we can see the cameraman pointing his camera at a person or an object, surrounded by all the other paraphernalia and personnel that are part of the production. This gives us another sort of reality. Today we are quite familiar with the two sorts of reality, but in doing what he did Cézanne was a pioneer breaking new ground.

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