Cézanne’s Bathers (1899-1904)

This painting, like Cézanne's Bathers in Philadelphia, is  formed from the head of a girl. Although not recognized in the literature, many other artists created works in similar ways, including Picasso. Cézanne formed landscapes like this on a number of occasions, only one of which has ever been noted. To see the girl's "face", though, you must forget about the superficial subject. Ignore it.

 

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Cézanne, Bathers (1899-1904)

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The girl's "eyes" are in the branches of the tree, both of them closed in the act of imagination. She is the alter ego of the artist in his mind. She is feminine because the fertile side of the poetic mind is traditionally identified with the power of women to conceive. The poetic mind must, moreover, be androgynous in order to be whole.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Diagram of Bathers

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The diagram at right helps reveal the true scene, a double image. This also helps explains why Cézanne's bathers are so un-naturalistic, their clunky bodies looking little like reality. He, like almost all other true artists, did not intend them as real bathers but as figures in his mind. 

 

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Notes:

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 26 Oct 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.