I present scholarship on Cézanne’s artistic process by George Hamilton, Meyer Schapiro and Joyce Medina in order to analyze his reconstitution of Space (as occurring in Time) in several paintings of his late period: “Le Bay from L’Estaque” (1886), “Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan” (1885),and “Mont Sainte Victoire” (1904). I argue that the ingenuity of Cézanne’s artistic representation of Space “in-duration” coincides with and is contemporary to a post Kantian reconstitution of Space introduced by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), according to whom Space is experienced by Consciousness only in Duration (Time).
Published in the 2013 Spring edition of Pharmakon—the American University Journal of Philosophy.
If an Art Historian were asked about the nature of their discipline, a variety of perspectives might be conveyed. It could be said that a history of art involves an inquiry into the parameters of its study: what an ‘artform’ constitutes. It is difficult to conceive of any one historian occupying a perspectival position allowing them to view the totality of the ‘arts’ insofar as they are an aspect of a human history. Perhaps this is why such questions are abstracted, their references foreshortened, and their study annexed to a field of philosophy concerning itself with aesthetics, or the meaning, process and purpose of art or creativity. An Art History which narrows its scope in order to study the ‘artefact’ or the human-created object (to which artistic nature or quality is ascribed) is more imaginable, but still jarring. An Art History which positions itself in such a way so as to consider the genealogy of a particular form or category of artistic expression, such as ‘painting’, is possible when set within a still immense framework of human traditions and their various developments.
The work of an art historian is conducted in a liminal position: between their perception of an artefact, and their pursuit of an understanding regarding the historical circumstances by which it came to be. This act of experiencing and interpreting artwork is situated within an interpretive process that is itself historical. There is no ‘Art History’. Rather, we have ‘Art Histories’: competing narratives that range from the broadest perspectives on the discipline to conflicting discourses on the level of an artwork by a particular artist of a particular series of a particular movement of a particular era. Each Art History positions itself in a different relation to historical concerns. On the level of the specific artwork, the array of techniques, approaches and methodologies available to art historians can produce many permutations of interpretation on a single figure, brush-stroke, or a related diary entry by the artist. This paper is bound to the matrix of art historical scholarship, its lexicon, and its approaches to its objects of study. I have sought to trace a line at this moment from a general view of art history towards the characterization of a particular moment within it. It is useful to catch of a view of the broader landscape prior to entering a specific cluster of space within it.. (continue below).