Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) was a French Post-Impressionist painter who led art from Impressionism to Cubism.

His father was co-founder of a banking firm that flourished and offered Cezanne the financial security throughout life that other artists dreamt of. He studied law as his family wished, but took drawing classes on the side. When he afterwards chose to pick up a career as an artist his father was first not thrilled, but reconciled and supported him when he moved to Paris.

In Paris he started as a student of Impressionist Camille Pissarro, though their relationship shifted in later years to that of equals and collaborators. He participated in the first ever show of Impressionists, called ‘Salon of the Rejected’ as it was made up of art only that was rejected by the jury of the official Paris Salon because of its deviation from the classical style. Cezanne submitted work to the official Salon every year after that, but was only once admitted in 1882. His first solo show didn’t happen until 1895 and before that only few of his paintings were shown at shows. Despite growing recognition and financial success he chose artistic isolation mostly in the South of France over Paris though his art wasn’t understood and cherished by the people of Aix at all. He died of pneumonia in 1906 after a free air painting session in a rain storm.

Genres: landscape, portraits, still-life and bathers

Cezanne was driven to transfer the true optical image of humans’ binocular perception into art. He started to simplify shapes and added a multi-point perspective to improve depth in his pictures. He used repetitive, sensitive, exploratory brushstrokes and planes of color.

His work can generally speaking be split into four periods:

  1. Dark Period (1861-1870: dark palette, heavy use of black, almost expressionistic),
  2. Impressionist Period (1870 – 1878: landscapes, large canvases, abandonment of the dark palette, influence of Pissarro),
  3. Mature Period (1878 – 1890),
  4. Final Period (1890 – 1905)

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