Merleau-Ponty on Cezanne

We live in the midst of man-made objects, among tools, in houses, streets, cities. We become used to thinking that all of this exists necessarily and unshakably. Cezanne’s painting suspends these habits of thought. This is why Cezanne’s people are strange, as if viewed by a creature of another species. There is no wind in the landscape, no movement on the Lac d’Annecy; the frozen objects hesitate as at the beginning of the world. It is an unfamiliar world in which one is uncomfortable and which forbids all human effusiveness. If one looks at the work of other painters after seeing Cezanne’s paintings, one feels somehow relaxed, just as conversations resumed after a period of mourning mask the absolute change and give back to the survivors their solidity. (1964:16).

Advertisements