Paul Cézanne – Artist profile


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19 January 1839 – 22 October 1906

Cézanne was a French Post-Impressionist painter. Labelled as the father of us all by Matisse and Picasso, Cézanne was credited with bridging the gap between late 19th century Impressionism, and early 20th century Cubism.

His use of planes of colour, and small brushstrokes were characteristic of his intense study of the subject, making his work very recognisable.

While living in Paris in his early 20’s, Cézanne met the Impressionist Camille Pissaro. Initially a master and apprentice relationship, it eventually developed into a collaborative working relationship between equals.

Cézanne’s early work consisted of figures painted from his imagination incorporated into the landscape. Later, his style of painting changed, gradually adopting a lighter, more fluid method, while concentrating on working from direct observation. However, he struggled to get an accurate representation of what he saw, and instead, translated his perception into simple forms and colour planes, hence simplifying naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials.

This simplification of nature inspired Cézanne’s desire to capture the truth of perception. In particular, his exploration of single-point perspective provided the viewer with an aesthetic experience of depth different from the of earlier ideals of perspective.

In 1895, when Cézanne was 56 years old, the Parisian dealer, Ambroise Vollard, gave Cézanne his first solo exhibition. Following this, despite the increasing public recognition and financial success, Cézanne chose to work in increasing artistic isolation, usually painting in the south of France, in his beloved Provence, far from Paris.

Cézanne’s works were rejected numerous times by the official Salon in Paris and ridiculed by art critics when exhibited with the Impressionists’. Yet during his lifetime Cézanne was considered a master by younger artists who visited his studio in Aix.

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