Thursday, August 07, 2014


This shows a watercolor called "The Balcony." Paul Cézanne painted it in 1900 and Albert Eugene Gallatin bought it in 1924. Gallatin was a well-bred New York connoisseur, writer, and artist. This photo of Gallatin at age 24 in 1905 shows his upper-crust nature. He was wealthy, conservative, dignified, and entirely correct. How then, one wonders, did he become one of America's most dedicated proponents of radical art, a participant in the rebellion against conservatism that followed the 1913 Armory Show in New York? And why, in particular, did he champion non-representational Cubist art?

Part of the answer is that he taught himself to see differently. A somewhat overwrought and wordy Ph.D. thesis by a man named Gregory Galligan attempts to explain:

"Cézanne taught himself to see otherwise, that is, he mastered an ability to largely disregard his usual habits of stereometric perception for something far more fundamentally (in the ontological sense of the term) pictorial, or "painterly." Albert E. Gallatin understood this aesthetic implicitly when, on a routine visit to the Galleries Berneim-Jeune, Paris, in the summer of 1924, he purchased Cézanne's late watercolor, The Balcony, of 1900. In this instance, a wrought-iron window railing answers the implied arabesques of a distant view of brush and foliage—nature and culture thus taking part in a close poker of mutual bluffing.

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