Paul Cézanne

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Image:Paul Cezanne.jpg
Self portrait c. 1875

Paul Cézanne (January 19, 1839October 22, 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne " the father of us all..." cannot be easily dismissed.

Cézanne's work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognisable. Using planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature, Cézanne's paintings convey intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.


[edit] Life and work

Image:Woman in a Green Hat.jpg
Femme au Chapeau Vert (Woman in a Green Hat. Madame Cézanne.) 1894-1895

[edit] Biographical background

Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, one of the southernmost regions of France. Provence is a varied and complex region geographically, comprised of several limestone plateaux and mountain ranges, to the east of the Rhône valley. The climate is hot and dry in summer and cool in winter. Altitudes range from lower-lying areas to some impressive mountain peaks and these mountainous areas have characteristic pine forests and limestone outcrops. Each of these topographical features would find prominent expression in Cézanne's work. Cézanne developed a lifelong love for the Provençal landscape, which later became his chief subject before his later large scale works involving 'The Bathers' consumed him.[citation needed]

From 1859 to 1861 Cézanne studied law in Aix, while also receiving drawing lessons. Going against the objections of his banker father, he committed himself to pursuing his artistic development and left Aix for Paris, with his close friend Émile Zola, in 1861. Eventually, his father reconciled with Cézanne and supported his choice of career. Cézanne later received a large inheritance from his father, on which he could continue living comfortably.

[edit] Cezanne the Artist

In Paris, Cézanne met the Impressionists, including Camille Pissarro. Initially the friendship formed in the mid 1860s between Pissarro and Cézanne was that of master and mentor, with Pissarro exerting a formative influence on the younger artist. Over the course of the following decade their landscape painting excursions together, in Louveciennes and Pontoise, led to a collaborative working relationship between equals.

Image:Paul Cézanne 222.jpg
The Cardplayers, an iconic work by Cézanne (1892).

Cézanne's early work is often concerned with the figure in the landscape and comprises many paintings of groups of large, heavy figures in the landscape, imaginatively painted. Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style that was to influence the Impressionists enormously. Nonetheless, in Cézanne's mature work we see the development of a solidified, almost architectural style of painting. Throughout his life he struggled to develop an authentic observation of the seen world by the most accurate method of representing it in paint that he could find. To this end, he structurally ordered whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes. His statement "I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in the museums", and his contention that he was recreating Poussin "after nature" underscored his desire to unite observation of nature with the permanence of classical composition.

[edit] Optical phenomena

Image:Paul Cézanne 047.jpg
Les Grandes Baigneuses, 1906: the triumph of Poussinesque stability and geometric balance.

Cézanne's geometric essentialisation of forms was to influence Pablo Picasso's, Georges Braque's and Juan Gris' Cubism in profound ways.[citation needed] When one compares Cézanne's late oils with Cubist paintings, a link of influence is most evident. The key to this link is the depth and concentration that Cézanne applied to recording his observations of nature, a focus later intellectually synthesized in Cubism. We have two eyes and therefore possess binocular vision. This gives rise to two slightly separate visual perceptions, which are simultaneously processed in the visual cortex of the brain and provide us with depth perception and a complex knowledge of the space which we inhabit. The essential aspect of binocular vision that Cézanne employed and which became influential on Cubism, was that we often "see" two views of an object at the same time. This led him to paint with a varying outline that at once shows the left-eye and right-eye view, thus ignoring traditional linear perspective. Cubism took this a step further and Picasso, Braque and Gris experimented with not simply two simultaneous views but with multiple views of the same subject.

[edit] Exhibitions and subjects

Cézanne's paintings were shown in the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusés in 1863, which displayed works not accepted by the jury of the official Paris Salon. The Salon rejected Cézanne's submissions every year from 1864 to 1869.
Image:Stilllife hermitage.jpg
Still Life with a Curtain (1895) illustrates Cezanne's increasing trend towards terse compression of forms and dynamic tension between geometric figures.

Cézanne exhibited little in his lifetime and worked in increasing artistic isolation, remaining in the south of France, in his beloved Provence, far from Paris. He concentrated on a few subjects and was equally proficient in each genre: still lifes, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers. For the last, Cézanne was compelled to design from his imagination, due to a lack of available nude models. Like the landscapes, his portraits were drawn from that which was familiar, so that not only his wife and son but local peasants, children and his art dealer served as subjects. His still lifes are at once decorative in design, painted with thick, flat surfaces, yet with a weight reminiscent of Courbet. The 'props' for his works are still to be found, as he left them, in his studio (atelier), in the suburbs of modern Aix.

Although religious images appeared less frequently in Cézanne's later work, he remained a devout Roman Catholic and said “When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.”[citation needed]

[edit] Death of Cézanne

In 1906, Cézanne collapsed while painting outdoors, during a thunderstorm. One week later, on October 22, he died of pneumonia.

[edit] Main periods of Cezanne's work

Various periods in the work and life of Cézanne have been defined.<ref>The scheme presented here is essentially that of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Some alternative names are mentioned. On the whole the various classifications tend to converge.</ref> Cézanne created hundreds of paintings, some of which command considerable market prices. On May 10, 1999, Cézanne's painting Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier sold for $60.5 million, the fourth-highest price paid for a painting up to that time. As of 2006, it is the most expensive still life ever sold at an auction.

[edit] The dark period, Paris, 1861-1870

The Overture to Tannhäuser: The Artist's Mother and Sister, 1868.

In 1863 Napoleon III created by decree the Salon des Refusés, at which paintings rejected for display at the Salon of the Académie des Beaux-Arts were to be displayed. The artists of the refused works included the young Impressionists, who were considered revolutionary. Cézanne was influenced by their style but his inept social relations with them—he seemed rude, shy, angry and given to depression—resulted in a period characterized by dark colors and the heavy use of black, unlike either his earlier watercolours and sketches at the École Spéciale de dessin at Aix-en-Provence, in 1859 or his subsequent works. Among the works of his dark period were paintings such as The Murder (c.1867-68); the words antisocial or violent are often used.<ref>Some prefer "the Romantic Period", but Cézanne was not primarily interested in Romanticism. The term here refers to personal disposition, rather than connection with a historical movement. </ref>

[edit] Impressionist period, Provence and Paris, 1870-1878

After the start of the Franco-Prussian War in July, 1870, Cézanne and his mistress, Marie-Hortense Fiquet, left Paris for L'Estaque, near Marseilles, where he changed themes to predominantly landscapes. He was declared a draft-dodger in January, 1871, but the war ended in February and the couple moved back to Paris, in the summer of 1871. After the birth of their son Paul in January, 1872, in Paris, they moved to Auvers in Val-d'Oise near Paris. Paul's mother was kept a party to family events, but his father was not informed of Hortense for fear of risking his wrath. Paul received from his father an allowance of 100 francs.
Image:Jas de bouffan.jpg
Jas de Bouffan, 1876.

Pissarro lived in Pontoise. There and in Auvers, he and Cézanne painted landscapes together. For a long time afterwards, Cézanne described himself as Pissarro's pupil, referring to him as "God the Father" and saying, "We all stem from Pissarro".<ref>Brion, Marcel, Cézanne, Thames and Hudson, 1974, ISBN 0-500-86004-1, p26.</ref> Under Pissarro's influence Cézanne began to abandon dark colours and his canvases grew much brighter.

Leaving Hortense in the Marseille region, Paul moved between Paris and Provence, exhibiting in the Impressionist shows of Paris nearly every year until 1878. In 1875, he attracted the attention of the collector Victor Chocquet, whose commissions provided some financial relief. But Cézanne's exhibited paintings attracted hilarity, outrage and sarcasm; for example, the reviewer Louis Leroy said of Cézanne's portrait of Chocquet: "This peculiar looking head, the colour of an old boot might give [a pregnant woman] a shock and cause yellow fever in the fruit of her womb before its entry into the world".<ref>Brion, Marcel, Cézanne, Thames and Hudson, 1974, ISBN 0-500-86004-1, p34.</ref>

In March 1878, Paul's father found out about Hortense and threatened to cut Cézanne off financially but, in September, he decided to give him 400 francs for his family. Paul continued to migrate between the Paris region and Provence until Louis-Auguste had a studio built for him at his home, Jas de Bouffan, in the early 1880s. This was on the upper floor and an enlarged window was provided, allowing in the northern light but interrupting the line of the eaves. This feature remains today. Paul stabilized his residence in L'Estaque. He painted with Renoir there in 1882 and visited Renoir and Monet in 1883.

[edit] Mature period, Provence, 1878-1890

Image:Paul Cézanne 079.jpg
Jas de Bouffan, 1885-1887.

In the early 1880's the Cezanne family stabilized their residence in Provence, where they remained, except for brief sojourns abroad, from then on. The move reflects a new independence from the Paris-centered impressionists and a marked preference for the south, Paul's native soil. Hortense's brother had a house within view of Mount St. Victoire at Estaque. A run of paintings of this mountain from 1880-1883 and others of Gardanne from 1885-1888, are sometimes known as "the Constructive Period".

The year 1886 was a turning point for the family. Paul married Hortense. She had long since been known politely as Madame Cézanne (Mrs. Cézanne). In that year also, Paul's father died, leaving him the estate purchased in 1859. Paul was 47. By 1888 the family was in the former manor, Jas de Bouffan, a substantial house and grounds with outbuildings, which afforded a new-found comfort. This house, with much-reduced grounds, is now owned by the city and is open to the public on a restricted basis.

Also in that year Paul broke off his friendship with Émile Zola, after the latter used Cézanne, in large part, as the basis for the unsuccessful and ultimately tragic fictitious artist Claude Lantier, in the novel (L'Œuvre). Cézanne considered this a breach of decorum and a friendship begun in childhood was irreparably damaged.

[edit] Final period, Provence, 1890-1905

Image:Cezanne annecy.jpg
Le lac bleu, 1896.

Cézanne's idyllic period at Jas de Bouffan was temporary. From 1890 until his death he was beset by troubling events and he withdrew further into his painting, spending long periods as a virtual recluse. His paintings became well-known and sought after and he was the object of respect from a new generation of painters.

The problems began with diabetes in 1890, destabilizing his personality to the point where relationships with others were again strained. He travelled in Switzerland, with Hortense and his son Paul, perhaps hoping to restore their relationship. Cézanne, however, returned to Provence to live; Hortense and Paul junior, to Paris. Financial need prompted Hortense's return to Provence but in separate living quarters. Cézanne moved in with his mother and sister. In 1891 he turned to Catholicism.

Cézanne alternated between painting at Jas de Bouffan and in the Paris region, as before. In 1895 he made a germinal visit to Bibémus Quarries and climbed Mt. Ste. Victoire. The labyrinthine landscape of the quarries must have struck a note, as he rented a cabin there in 1897 and painted extensively from it. The shapes are believed to have inspired the embryonic 'Cubist' style. Also in that year, his mother died, an upsetting event but one which made reconciliation with his wife possible. He sold the empty nest at Jas de Bouffan and rented a place on Rue Boulegon, where he built a studio. There is some evidence that his wife joined him there.[citation needed]
Image:Cézanne Bibémus 01.jpg
Cézanne's house in the Bibémus quarries, Aix-en-Provence, France.

The relationship, however, continued to be stormy. He needed a place to be by himself. In 1901 he bought some land along the Chemin des Lauves ("Lauves Road"), an isolated road on some high ground at Aix, and commissioned a studio to be built there (the 'atelier', now open to the public). He moved there in 1903. Meanwhile, in 1902, he had drafted a will excluding his wife from his estate and leaving everything to his son Paul; the relationship was apparently off again. She is said to have burned the mementos of Paul's mother.

From 1903 to the end of his life, he painted in his studio, working for a month in 1904 with Émile Bernard, who stayed as a house guest. After his death it became a monument, Atelier Paul Cézanne, or les Lauves.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

<references />

[edit] References

Joachim Pissarro, Pioneering Modern Painting, Cézanne & Pissarro 1865-1885, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 0-87070-184-3

[edit] External links

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Paul Cézanne

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