Art is for me // Cezanne’s Apples and our Apples

The Basket of Apples

The Basket of Apples (1895), Paul Cezanne

This wonky-looking painting by Paul Cezanne is incredibly forward-thinking in how we see and understand art. I argue that it also influences how we interact with our technology today.

I’ll admit it, this painting doesn’t look right. The perspective is all over the place. This isn’t how we’re taught to draw still-life in art class. So this famous Cezanne can’t paint reality properly?

No, not at all. In fact, the contrary is true.

Cezanne proposes that his use of multiple perspectives in a painting is more ‘real than the singular linear perspective we’re used to (think Mona Lisa and still-life drawings in art class).

Traditionally, painters use a single linear perspective to capture the 3D world into a flat 2D representation. However, in real life, we don’t make sense of 3D objects from a single linear perspective. We see multiple perspectives of one object from our 2 eyes and as we move around an object. Our brain computes this information to give us a holistic 3D understanding of an object.

This tension between how we see 3D objects in real life and how we see them on a 2D canvas, is what Cezanne addresses in his revolutionary avant-garde paintings.

So how is this relevant to us now?

This idea is seen today on our LCD screens which use IPS (in-plane switching) technology, found in newer Apple products, monitors and TVs. Screens with IPS technology change perspective when you change viewing angles. (If you own a device with IPS,  test it out by viewing the screen from a different angle and watch how the display moves with you.) IPS technology recognises that we’re viewing a flat screen but it’s a 3D object – we view it from different angles. So rather than a static display, we get a dynamic display which moves as we move.

Like Cezanne, it tries to solve the tension between 3D objects and a 2D viewing plane.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, explains why a painting of apples by Cezanne is the wallpaper image of my Apple iPad.

———

‘Art is for me’ is a series where I hope to show you why I love art and why I think art is relevant and interesting to all of us today.

Disclaimer: Please don’t quote me for an Art History essay/assignment as I am only using my own opinion and general knowledge I’ve picked up over the years. If you are interested in finding out more, message me and I can probably find some sources for further proper reading.

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