Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) – The Undisputed Father of Modern Art

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Paul Cezanne was a famous French, Post-Impressionist painter, born on January 19, 1839 at Aix-en-Province of France, to father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne, and mother, Anne-Elisabeth Honorine Aubert. Paul was the owner of a banking firm, which his father co-founded. This made him financially independent and therefore, he carried on his work without any financial concerns. The painter started his lessons on art from an early age of 10 under a Spanish monk, Joseph Gibert at St Joseph boarding school, Aix. In 1852, Paul Cézanne joined the College of Bourbon (College Mignet now) and made friends with the noted French writer, Emile Zola. In 1859-61, the artist studied at the law school of the University of Aix. He moved to Paris in 1861.

Cézanne mastered the color composition & drafter ship in his work. His uniquely sensuous and repetitive brushstrokes, and the use of the different planes of colors, gave his work an eye-catching obsession. All time great painters, Henri Matisse & Pablo Picasso said that Paul Cézanne “is the father of us all.” He was considered the bridge between the Impressionism of 19th century & the Cubism of 20th century, which Picasso pioneered later.

Paul Cezanne believed, “For an Impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations.” These lines clearly depict the painter’s passion for his work. He carried a very different and unique perception towards arts. He was interested in the naturally occurring forms of geometric figures. For example, he imagined the sun as a circle and mountains as triangles, and so on and so forth. He applied the art of visual perception in his paintings to provide them varying visual angles. We can classify Paul’s works in to four broad art forms, standard oil paintings, still life paintings, watercolor paintings, and portraits. Cezanne displayed his works first time at Salon des Refusés in 1863. In 1882, he could exhibit his artworks, including the “Portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne (1866),” at Paris Salon. The painter held his first solo exhibition in 1895.

Cézanne’s way of working was highly motivated by the people and the environment around him. He used dark colors in his work, often called “The Dark Period,” during 1861-70, to reflect various human expressions such as shyness, anger, and depressed social relations. “The Murder (1867-68)” and “The Black Marble Clock (1869-71)” are one of his key paintings of dark period. 1870-78 witnessed the “Impressionist” swing in Cezanne’s works. He mainly painted landscapes in bright colors during this phase. Some of his work seemed influenced by another French painter & Impressionist, Camille Pissarro. 1878-90, also called as the “Mature” phase of Paul’s paintings, were flooded with the images of Mont Sainte-Victoire, Estaque. “Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1882-85),” “Bather (1885-87),” and “Boy in a Red Vest (1888-90) are some key paintings of this phase. From 1890-1905, Paul’s paintings reflected a touch of “Cubism.” “Madame Cezanne in the Greenhouse (1891-92),” “The House with Burst Walls (1892-94),” “Road before the Mountains, Sainte-Victoire (1898-02),” and “Bathers (1898-05)” are some important paintings of this phase. Paul Cézanne died of pneumonia on October 22, 1906 at Aix-en-Province, France.

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Source by Annette Labedzki

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