ARGUING AGAINST CRITICAL MODELS of Cézanne's pictorial tech nique that posit a delimitable ''unit'' of manufacture as the basis for the composition of his pictures, and challenging certain idées reçues of Greenbergian modernism that continue to frame our view of Cézanne's art, ''Cézanne and Lucretius at the Red Rock'' offers a new perspective from which to think about meaning and form in Cézanne's painting. The essay takes as its starting point evidence that during the last decade of his life Cézanne was reading Lucretius, the Roman poet whose De rerum natura espouses the ancient philosophy of atomistic materialism. From this connection ''Cézanne and Lucretius at the Red Rock'' does not propose Cézanne as a painter of an atomistic worldview - an argument that would yield for the formal analysis of Cézanne's pictorial technique little more than yet another version of what is frequently characterized as Cézanne's ''constructive stroke.'' Instead, this essay turns on a Lucretius who was a poet profoundly attuned to the complex ways metaphorical figuration functioned in his materialist imagination of the world. On the basis of a scrupulous analysis of one late landscape by Cézanne, ''The Red Rock'' of circa 1895, this essay advances ways that such a materialism - one, in other words, acutely self-aware of its own construction on the basis of metaphor - can be seen as deeply resonant with formal and thematic concerns of Cézanne's art. Using Lucretian materialism as its heuristic in this manner, ''Cézanne and Lucretius at the Red Rock'' also sets forth new proposals about Cézanne's revolutionary use of color, contributes to the long-standing critical effort to articulate more precisely the elusive meaning of one of Cézanne's key theoretical terms, ''realization,'' and concludes with a meditation on the deeper issues involved in the melancholic preoccupations of so many of Cézanne's last canvases.

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