The Caribbean in Texas

We went to see the Francisco Oller (1883 1917) show at the Blanton in Austin,Texas. Great museum and this is a very cool art exhibit. Oller and the other regional painters are very good painters and capture what life was like in the day. He revolutionized the approach to painting in his native Puerto Rico. But they are limited. Regionalism is just that.

Francisco Oller. The School of Master Rafael Cordero, 1890

Then you turn the corner in the exhibit and there’s a Cezanne. Not fair!  The reason he’s considered the Father of Modern Art (or what ever he is considered) is because of paintings like this. In this piece he left a chalk drawing on the canvas. Even if Cezanne thought it was unfinished, it’s perfectly in balance.

Would the painting ‘say’ anything differently if this area were painted in? No. There’s really no particular compelling reason to color it in. It’s by far the strongest painting in the show. Tells every painter to be aware of what you are saying as you work.  It’s fun to keep pushing paint around but sometimes leave a little for the rest of us.  Put you hand in a bucket of ice and stop. Cezanne paved the way, set a precedent for future artists.

You could also make a case calling this Process Art. He shows us how it’s done. Always the most fun about a theater production, a magic act or seeing how a film is made. Behind the scenes.

Thank you Mr. Cezanne!

Impressionism and the Caribbean Francisco Oller and his Transatlantic World.  Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas.  June 14 to Sept 6. 2015

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