The Brush Stroke as Catastrophe: Gasquet's Cézanne and the Paintings of Bibémus Quarry

Anne Byrd


In this paper, I examine Paul Cézanne’s paintings of Bibémus Quarry in the context of Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, the Symbolist poet’s account of his conversations with the artist and his observations of the artist at work sur le motif.  I focus especially on the geological metaphors that Gasquet uses to describe Cézanne’s application of the brushstroke or tache—metaphors that are rather mixed, ideologically and aesthetically, and speak to the painter’s process all the more vividly for being so. In bringing this discussion to bear on formal analyses of three of the Bibémus paintings while endeavouring to avoid formalism (with its insistence on aesthetic autonomy), the paper instead draws out some of the scientific, social, and implicitly philosophical implications of Cézanne’s striking pictorial forms.


Cézanne; Gasquet; Bibémus

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