Roger Fry's Concept of Authenticity: the Associative Gauguin Contrasted with the Contemplative Cézanne
Stotland, Irina D.
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This thesis analyses the role of Paul Gauguin in the writings of Roger Fry. Fry follows a nineteenth-century opposition of Gauguin as associative artist to Paul Cézanne as contemplative artist. Fry's binary structure influenced the later English language art criticism on Gauguin. Fry, as his nineteenth-century sources, considered aesthetic experience to be a reflection of the artist's inner self. To Fry, Cézanne's paintings mirrored an instinctual, semi-conscious and contemplative artist. In Fry's view, Gauguin could not sustain passivity before nature and destroyed the disinterestedness of beholding by enacting associations with the outside world. The perception of Gauguin's inner self as weak and the consequent affectation, subjectivism, and associativity, allowed Fry to find Gauguin inauthentic. To Fry, through disinterested contemplation, Cézanne achieved significance of forms and enabled a beholder's creation of meaning exclusively from them. For Fry, as a formalist, this factor was decisive in choosing Cézanne over Gauguin