Paul Cezanne's Still Life with Plaster Cast - How the Form and Content of This Painting Contributes to Our Understanding of a Modern Work

Cezanne’s Still Life with Plaster Cast is not a traditional representation of a still life painting,
but this wouldn’t be expected of the avant-garde art of the modern period. The angles are
distorted and warped; making it difficult to establish from what position the spectator is
viewing the objects within the picture space. An example of this is in the twisting of the
plaster cast figure. The statues right shoulder and right foot are pointing towards the
viewer, his pelvis and torso facing the extreme left, and his left shoulder and foot twisting
towards to back of the room. This shows that when painting, Cezanne undoubtedly shifted
his positions to get better viewpoints on what he was painting. The distorted angles give a
sense of everything in the painting being pushed forward and that objects may protrude out
from the picture plane. The table the plaster cast is sitting on appears to tip up towards the
viewer, and the floor slopes up towards the back of the picture, evoking the effect that nothing in the painting is stable.
In classical art, this un-clear take on angles is not found, the modelling within the
artwork ensures there is always a definite impression of which direction the artist was
observing his objects from, as is the case in Francisco de Zurbaran’s Still Life with Oranges,
Lemons and a Rose (Plate 1.3.30). Classical paintings evoke a sense of a universe trapped
within the confines of the frame, a world one could step in-to, and Cezanne’s still life does
Cezanne has created a shallow, densely filled picture space. Far from the traditional
use of changing tone to represent spatial density, he keeps the tone he uses equal
throughout, using bright yellow, green and red to represent the vitality of the fruit, gritty
whites and greys for the plaster, bold blues for the material, creating confusion in respect to
where the objects are located in respect to one another.
Some shadowing can be identified in...