I'm a Cezanne. My writing bud, Marty, is a Cezanne. It's a blessing...or a curse. We discuss it often, but haven't reached a definitive conclusion . . .
If you are reluctant to scratch your John Henry on the bottom right corner of your work, or click "Send", you might be one, too. But if you're not, you--lucky you--might be a Picasso.
The inherent difference between Cezanne and Picasso, in this context, came to my attention by way of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast, specifically Episode 7: Hallelujah, about the creation of the song, but not.
For purposes of this post, what I'd like to focus on is not the song, Hallelujah, but how the song was written. Poet, Songwriter, Singer, Creator, Leonard Cohen is a Cezanne, too, as evidenced by this poem-turned-song's 15 year, countless drafts, journey from beginning to--Hallelujah!--Classic!
However, if/when you are so inclined take a listen to Gladwell's podcast for the whole story, including how, if not for Jeff Buckley having walked into the Mississippi--fully clothed, booted, singing--and drowned, Cohen's now-classic, oft covered & lauded song might never had been noticed at all.
Aside: Below, as usual, is this post's Playlist. When I was searching U-tube for these videos, the list on which I found Buckley's must have been one featuring songs by artists with tragic stories as the next video up was Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere over the Rainbow, the result of a late night, one take studio session after which "Iz" died. Fortunately, after that, on a lighter note came Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy. Bobby, I'm happy to report is, according to Wikipedia, still living, so by way of celebrating him--and because Don't Worry, Be Happy is a smile song--I included it, too.
Back to Cezanne & Picasso: Gladwell highlighted these two artist in his podcast because they represent two distinctly different types of artists. The difference is not restricted to visual artists. As Cohen's process shows, these 2 types exist within all Creators. And most significant to me, right now, the difference might be the root of some deep seeding feeling of inadequacy (I'll get back to that later). First, on to Picasso and Cezanne.
Pablo Picasso was a Conceptualist. While Pablo, baby, may well have spent a lot of time thinking, planning, visualizing beforehand, he created in bursts. His efforts produced polished pieces which, by all accounts I found, he considered "finished" and was more than happy to sign and send out into the world. No second guessing, no revising, call it "done" and move on to the next idea...and the next...and the next...
French artist Paul Cezanne was an Experimentalist (What I call a Revisionist). Cezanne, Gladwell noted, didn't sign much of his work because he couldn't admit to himself his paintings were finished! He had his manager pose for a single portrait some 100 times! Cezanne destroyed and/or tried to destroy what are today considered "masterpieces" because he felt he could not accomplish in creating them what he'd set out to do. He could not please himself. Cezanne did not know how to say "done." He agonized. He doubted. He revised...and revised...and revised...
We Cezannes, aka Experimentalists, aka Revisionists--are plagued with feeling of frustration, and inadequacy. Why, because we compare ourselves to Picassos.
And worse, our work may well languish, as Cohen's Halleluia, almost did because we don't--won't--put it out there.
Which do I think is better, to be a Picasso or a Cezanne?
Or, how we Cezanne's be more Picasso-ish? Or, do we want to?
Hmmmm I'll have to think on it . . .
Breaking News (As of Sept 2017): The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is currently exhibiting Picasso: On the Beach, which showcases Pablo Picasso. The artist also has upcoming shows at the Musée Picasso in Paris and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. We would like to take this opportunity to promote his work. Our hope is that the timing of this outreach will effectively support both the museum and Pablo Picasso. Its Pablo Picasso page provides visitors with Picasso's bio, over 1100 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Picasso exhibition listings.