Merleau-Ponty about Le doute de Cézanne

  • Thomas Baumeister Radboud University Nijmegen
Keywords: Merleau-Ponty, Cézanne, phenomenology, art, painting, primordiality, aesthetics


Merleau-Ponty’s essay about Cézanne’s doubt from 1946 is still in discussion. Merleau-Ponty tries to explain the peculiarities of Cézanne’s pictorial language, for instance his abandonment of the geometrical perspective, as expression of, what he calls, the “primordial perception”, which is free from the distortions of metaphysical dualism and of modern sciences.  There are two main problems here: 1. that primordiality remains an obscure notion, which is more explained by Cézannes work, than it explains it. 2. Merleau-Ponty tends to forget, that Cézanne’s  perception is first of all a painters perception, inspired by the idea of  what a painting should be and by a conception of the physical  performances by which  it comes into being.   Cézanne tries to liberate painting from the Albertinian idea, that the work is similar to a window, opening the view on a section of reality. Contrary to this he stresses the autonomy of the work, its presence as being painted, without giving up its contact to the reality depicted.


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