Allen to Lionel Trilling, New York, Columbia University, June 1948:
“Also, I must tell you about St. Shapiro (Meyer Schapiro). I finally took a course with him as you suggested a few years ago. I don’t know anything about fine art and sat terrified in the front row, smiling to hear the sweetness of his discourse. I was also afraid to write his papers, but I couldn’t evade the examination, for which I studied at the last moment, and I wrote him a wild sleepless book. I saw him the same afternoon to try to explain what I had meant there, though he hadn’t read it yet, and held forth frantically on some mad idea about Cosmic Vibrations in Cézanne and we parted, I suspect, mutually baffled. This morning I got a marvelous letter from him complimenting me on the exam and chiding me for not writing the term paper…”
His ( Cézanne ‘s), Bill Morgan writes, in I Celebrate Myself – The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg, were “the first works of art in which Allen was aware of the mind of a living, intelligent person behind them. Until then, (he) had viewed artworks as objects of beauty, but the mental acumen of Cézanne himself was transmitted through his paintings in a way (he) had never before experienced”
regarding “Howl”, in the famous Letter to Richard Eberhart, of the following year:
“I have noticed that the unspoken visual-verbal flow inside the mind has great rhythm and have approached the problem of strophe, line and stanza and measure by listening and transcribing to a great extent) the coherent mental flow. Taking that for the model for form, as Cézanne took Nature.”
“The latter parts of the first section (thus) set forth a “formal” esthetic derived in part incidentally from my master who is Cezanne” [sic]
” – who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus”. (from “Howl”)
From his Journals, May/June 1961:
“Yesterday in Aix comparing postcard Cézanne reproduction with Saint-Victoire and measuring each brushstroke to a geological epoch. Went to Avenue Paul-Cézanne & stole into his studio – the cracked white hat &; green cloak – (modeled in photos &; paintings) – his skulls &; thighbone-rosary-wooden puppet in a drawer – his easel & palette & the shining slippery polished wood floor of the vast room..
Then..up to Vauves hill to see Sainte-Victoire a new housing project annihilating the old point of view from which Cezanne saw the Mountain’s south face steeper than at Chateau Noir”.
Interviewer (Tom Clark): “You once mentioned something you found in Cézanne – a remark about the reconstitution of the petite sensations of experience, in his own painting – and you compared this with the method of your poetry.
Allen: I got all hung up on Cézanne around 1949 in my last year at Columbia studying with Meyer Shapiro. I don’t know how it led into..I think it was about the same time that I was having these Blake visions..
” I was looking at Cézanne and I suddenly got a strange shuddering impression looking at his canvases…Partly it’s when the canvas opens up into three dimensions and looks like wooden objects, like solid-space objects in three dimensions rather than flat. Partly it’s the enormous spaces that open up in Cézanne ‘s landscapes…”
Cézanne “shuffled off his mortal coil” on this day – October 22, 1906.
Coincidentally (coincidentally?) today is also the anniversary of the birth of Timothy Leary.