“Take a roof of old tiles
a short while after midday.
a fullgrown linden
stirred by the wind.
Above them put
a blue sky washed
Let them simmer.[i]
During the fall of 1872 and continuing through 1874, Paul Cezanne sought out the advice and guidance of the much older Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. They often painted side by side, observing the very same motif at the same hour of the day, in and around the area of Pontoise and Auvers-sur-Oise. They would compare and criticize each other’s work. This began both a personal and professional relationship that had a profound affect on each of them. A recipe for success.
Rooftops of red and a variety of other colors became a kind of theme or metaphor. Robert and Sonia Delauney, Francis Picabia and other French artists took up this subject. Certain American artists as well, in the early 20th Century, also incorporated these architectural forms, such as Charles Sheeler’s barns at Lancaster and Georgia O’Keeffe’s barns at Lake George, along with other works by Ralston Crawford and Marsden Hartley. The roofs got to a point where they became very abstract and even surreal. More so later when painted by Rene Magritte or written about by Marianne Moore.
“The magician’s retreat”
“of moderate height,
(I have seen it)
cloudy but bright inside
like a moonstone,
while a yellow glow
from a shutter-crack shone,
and a blue glow from the lamppost
close to the front door.
It left nothing of which to complain,
nothing more to obtain,
A black tree mass rose at the back
almost touching the eaves
with the definiteness of Magritte,
was above all discreet.”[iii]
[i] The penultimate line could be written in a couple of alternate ways, including “Let them be” and “Let them work” as in certain other culinary procedures.
[ii] Guillevic, Eugene; Seleceted Poems (translated by Denise Levertov); New Directions Publishing Corporation; New York, New York; 1969; pp. 66-67.
[iii] Schulman, Grace, ed.; The Poems of Marianne Moore; Viking; New York, New York; 2003; p. 136.