Fine ’11 Presents Cezanne’s Influence on Picasso at Art History Abbot Scholar Presentation

Zachary Fine ‘11 presented his Abbot Scholar presentation, “Through the Lens of Isolation and Foucault’s Heteropology: Cezanne’s influence on Picasso,” this Wednesday, inviting listeners to analyze and embrace the works of Paul Cezzanne and Pable Picasso and the philosophy of Michael Foucault. Fine’s research focused on the 1907 exhibition Salon d’Automne, where Pablo Picasso first encountered Cezanne’s work. The encounter had a lasting impact on Picasso’s style and the remainder of his career. Fine discussed the influence of Cezanne’s work on Picasso in the context of Michael Foucalt’s philosophy regarding art. Foucault theorizes that art consists of three realities: the reality of the person portrayed in the painting, the reality of the viewer and a third-dimensional reality extending beyond the canvas. Fine explained that Cezanne and Picasso dismantle the third reality in such a way that the viewer cannot imagine or extrapolate the three dimensional reality of the painting. “In Cezanne, you have these dejected men playing cards, which is the opposite of how one normally sees men playing cards depicted: it is usually happy or tense or something out of an ESPN poker contest–anything except dejected. Yet Cezanne does not provide any possible explanation for why these men are dejected,” said Fox in an email to The Phillipian. “Cezanne [and] Picasso attempted to overwhelm the viewer by stripping the context and cutting off the reality [in their paintings]…forcing the viewer to subconsciously or consciously engage with the canvas” said Fine. Over the course of the term, Fine read and studied primary sources about the Salon d’Automne, wrote a 19-page paper on Cezanne’s influence on Picasso’s work and taught a class on Cezanne to a History of Art class taught by David Fox, Instructor in English and Art History. This is the second of Fine’s two Independent Projects in art history. He completed his first this past winter as an Independent Scholar, when he studied Spanish Baroque artist Diego Velázquez in depth. This term he completed his independent project as an Abbot Scholar, which requires students to give a comprehensive presentation. “It was such a treat to hear a student present his scholarship in this way. We don’t often have the opportunity to listen to an explanation of an artist’s ideas and concepts this way outside the classroom,” said Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School. “I was in awe. We’re going to be sitting in an audience in New York listening to [Fine’s] lectures someday,” said Seth Bardo, instructor in English. This is Fine’s fifth term of studying art history. Fine credited his History of Art class with Fox as a source of his passion for art history. Fine actually ended up in Fox’s History of Art class because of a scheduling error. He had to fill second period with an art course and chose History of Art on a whim. “I actually always really hated art history until I took Mr. Fox’s course. As a child I went to museums a lot because my father is an art collector, but I was always bored,” said Fine. “When I took Mr. Fox’s course it was like learning a different language because in a sense just understanding what you’re seeing in art is the key to enjoying it, rather than becoming frustrated and disinterested. Once I became informed in [Mr. Fox’s] class, I could articulate my thoughts and that’s when I became really passionate about the subject,” Fine continued. Last summer, Fine traveled to Italy on an art history program with Fox and other students. “Seeing the art in person was like a punch that woke me up and heightened my passion for the discipline,” he added. Fine’s growing passion for Art History has brought him closer to his father, who is an art enthusiast and collector. “[My father] was always supportive of me in school, but even more now that I am studying art history. We often consult each other and talk about art with each other, so it’s kind of like an ongoing conversation between us,” Fine added. Fine will attend New York University next fall, where he will begin a major in Art History.