Ginsberg’s Visionary Illuminations under Cézanne


Today we celebrate the 175th anniversary of Paul Cézanne’s birthday. The famous Post-Impressionist was born on the 19th of January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France. His life-long adventure with painting resulted in a breakthrough theory on the modes of perception of reality. His phenomenological approach towards nature, and its impact on the creative process, has inspired many artists, art theorists, but also writers and poets. Probably, one of the most interesting and thought-provoking cases of inspiration drawn from Cézanne is that of Allen Ginsberg.

41A7M2XT4PLDuring his Columbia University days, sometime around 1948, Ginsberg claimed to have experienced “several visionary illuminations under the spiritual guidance of what he perceived as the poet William Blake’s raised-from-the-dead, spectre voice.” (Paul Portugés, Allen Ginsberg’s Paul Cézanne and the Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus; [in:] Lewis Hyde, On the Poetry of Allen Ginsberg). His “visionary illuminations” were most likely caused by the use…

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