If I were one of the judges for the next Salon de Refuses, I would recommend Paul Cézanne’s masterpiece Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-1904). This particular work should be chosen due to its impeccable technical realization of the idea, intricate symbolism, and eye-pleasing aesthetics. This vast, colorful, and enigmatic painting can be considered one of the artist’s most notable works. Gardner and Kleiner report that in his series of works, Cézanne aimed at providing the audience with an opportunity to analyze the lines and colors of nature (369).
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From a technical standpoint, it is clear that Cézanne wanted to make impressionism enduring and solids. The painting draws the viewer’s attention with its vivid use of color and a relatively light color palette. Notably, the proportions of the figures presented in the painting vary; they are not fixed by particular linear perspectives (Gardner and Kleiner 369). Even though the composition is quite complex and includes many figures and symbols, it is well-balanced. Cézanne’s work may even be considered analytical, as opposed to presenting photography-like scenery.
Another work that I would recommend including is Paul Gauguin’s masterpiece under the title of Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?. “Where Do We Come From?…” was painted during Gauguin’s trip to Haiti, where he transformed his experience of contacting a foreign culture into an art piece that can resonate with any person who would give it some thought (Gardner and Kleiner 368).
The painting is notable for its thick, coarse brushstrokes, which were the tenets of impressionism. From a symbolical standpoint, “Where Do We Come From?…” is quite thought-provoking. To follow the narrative, the viewer needs to figure out how to read the painting and what to focus on.
Further, the viewer is prompted to reflect on their own life and maybe even contemplate the inevitable death. In a way, the closeness of death in line with the philosophy of impressionism that rejoices in the beauty of a moment. Overall, the elements of a puzzle in this painting are truly encaptivating and another reason why it should become the centerpiece of the Salon des Refuses.
Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Concise Global History. Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009.