I went to the Courtauld Gallery this weekend. We all occasionally need a brush of culture, although mine wasn't entirely spontaneous. My study of Ernest Hemingway and the influence Cézanne’s paintings had on his writing – Cézanne believed in using big bold brush strokes, and Hemingway believed each word was a brush stroke on the page – brought me to the Courtauld Gallery. Anyway, if I were going to steal a few pieces of art – I sure as hell won't be buying any anytime soon – here are my picks from Courtauld.
The Lake At Annecy – Paul Cézanne 1896. My favourite painting of the day and probably one of the paintings that influenced Hemingway. Instead of recording the picturesque view, Cézanne set out to explore the landscape in terms of form and colour. The tree in the foreground gives a sense of scale and distance to the castle on the far bank of the lake, while the slopes of the mountains close off the scene.
The Card Players – Paul Cézanne around 1892-96. Reminds me of evenings out in London with old friends. The beer soaked smell of the typical London pub. And playing cards at the Coal Hole on Strand with Lindsay and Dan.
Festival At L'Hermitage – Paul Cézanne around 1892-96. The scene shows temporary stalls set up for a village market. It reminds me of the weekend markets in Knysna.
Portrait of Dolly – the daughter of Kees van Dongen, this painting was done around 1912 when Dolly was seven or eight years old. Dolly reminds me of my little girl, Nevada. They share the same pale complexion, rosy cheeks, and dark, thoughtful eyes.
Landscape With Dead Wood – Maurice de Vlaminck around 1906. People gathering wood along the Seine. I could stare at the vibrant colours and brush marks for hours.
The Dream - Heinrich Campendonk around 1913. A dreamlike world where a winged dog type cat hovers over a female figure. The painting reminds me of a Kandinsky that hung at the foot of a true love's bed. I'd hang the Campendonk at the foot of my bed and hope to find her in my dreams.
Carreras Factory At Mornington Crescent – Frank Auerbach 1961. A mundane street scene becomes a work of haunting stillness, monumentality and grandeur – London.
Antibes – Claude Monet 1888. Monet spent several months painting at the Antibes, struggling with ever-changing weather conditions, but he managed to convey the transitory effects of light and wind. He wrote: "What I bring back from here will be sweetness itself, white, pink and blue, all enveloped in this magical air." I just want to be able to saw, "Shall we hang the Monet over there?"