new-york

Brice Marden

Bykert Gallery

Brice Marden is the guy who sat on Cézanne’s tombstone, as anyone who reads the ads in this magazine knows. When I first saw the photo I thought it would be much more interesting if nobody was sitting on the tombstone—that solid, crisp chunk of stone, the neat flagstones, the weathered tones of the dressed masonry behind. To have a bloke sitting there seemed to spoil the effect. Then again, was it merely flippant or insulting: is it nice to sit on somebody’s tomb, particularly (if you are an artist) that of a man who probably painted himself into heaven?

Now that I have seen Marden’s new paintings perhaps I can appreciate why the picture bothered me a little and, maybe, why he did it. What insult there is, is I think, against Cézanne as the new Old Master, the academic hero who kept alive all the occidental sweat over space in painting; Cézanne the conservative prophet, who handed on to

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