Artibus et Historiae no. 44 (XXII)

2001, ISSN 0391-9064

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HIDEMICHI TANAKA - Cézanne and Japonisme

After summarising the comments of other art historians on possible links between Cézanne's paintings and Japanese landscape prints, the author assesses the circumstantial evidence for Cézanne's knowledge of Japanese art, noting that several of Cézanne's friends were in the forefront of the Japonisant movement. Cézanne is famous for his denial of the value of outline, one of the techniques which lends Japanese prints much of their character, and advocacy of the representation of nature by the cylinder, the sphere and the cone, an idea which can also be found in the writings of Hokusai. This denial of outline may reflect the artist's awareness of Japanese ink paintings, as opposed to prints, and it is also clear that he understood some of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism, which were in harmony with his own notion of the worship of nature. The article concludes by suggesting that Cézanne may have painted exactly thirty-six oil paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire in conscious rivalry with the title of Hokusai's series of 'thirty-six' (actually forty-six) views of Mount Fuji.

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