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Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

( Originally Published 1955 )

Outstanding pioneer modern French painter whose influence has been evident on a great many successive French and other European schools of painting. He stands as a full stop between Impressionism (with its emphasis on transitory and descriptive light values) and the form-searching, color-exploiting, emotion-provoking art of such diverse movements as Cubism (see), Fauvism (see), and Expressionism (see). Thus Cezanne's Post-Impressionism (see) becomes the chief source of the form experience which lies at the basis of so much early and later twentieth-century art. Born at Aix-en-Provence the son of a hatmaker turned banker, he was educated in that city with Emile Zola as one of his school-friends. He worked in the Aix School of Drawing where he took a second prize in 1858; he also studied music. He took his Lycee degree in Letters in 1859 and wished to go to Paris to study art but his father insisted that he study, law. After spending 1860 painting on his own in a manner suggesting Caravaggio, he was permitted to go to Paris and enrolled in the Academie Suisse. There he met Cuillaumin and Pissarro; the latter was to exert a strong influence on him. Cezanne visited the Louvre and the Salon and was rejected at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; returning home, he took a job in his father's bank but painted during the evenings and did murals at the family estate at Jas de Bouffan. In 1862-64 he made his second stay in Paris with new friends that included Bazille, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. With 7,ola he visited the Salon des Refuses and reiterated his admiration for Delacroix and Courbet; his Romantic manner, with its dark "lurid" tones, persisted until 1872. Returning to Aix, 1864-70, he divided his time between there and Paris, regularly sending to the Salon and regularly being refused. During the Franco-Prussian war he stayed at L'Estaque near Marseilles, living with a young model who was later to become Mme Cezanne.

In 1871 Cezanne returned to Paris and in 1872 his son Paul was born and he visited Pissarro at Pontoise. The following year he settled at Auvers-sur-Oise near his friend Dr. Gachet (later Van Gogh's physician) and painted the wellknown House of the Hanged Man and other works showing the influence of Pissarro; he also met the art dealer Pere Tanguy. In 1874 he participated, through Pissarro, in the First Impressionist Exhibition. His participation was opposed and his contributons were the most derided of all. Two years later he refused to join the Second Impressionist Exhibition, but entered the Third, in 1877, with seventeen pictures. By 1878 Cezanne had finshed with Impressionist practices. In 1882 Renoir visited him at L'Estaque; there were perceptible traces of influence on Renoir from this contact. From 1884 to 1888, while Cezanne was staying chiefly at Gardanne, a small hill-town near Aix, the classical, i.e., formal and architectonic, element in his painting became increasingly evident. He finally married his model Hortense Fiquet in 1886 and broke with Zola, whose novel L'Oeuvre contains the character of an unsuccessful artist very much like Cezanne. In that same year his father died, leaving him enough money to do what he wished.

In 1892 Cezanne produced the five versions of the Card Players, the Baigneuses series, and the Wontagne Ste.-Victoire. All these exemplify the controlled, deliberately limited space which was destined to influence the entire course of modern art. They reveal his search for a closed, complete composition within this limited space, and the exploitation of all the form possibilities of a theme or motif rather than the narrative or emotional meaning of a subject. The gradual growth of a following became apparent at this time. In 1900 he showed at the Centennial Exhibition, the Berlin Nationalgalerie bought a picture of his, and Maurice Denis painted Hommage a Cezanne. In 1904 an entire room at the Salon d'Automne was devoted to him. Visitors began coming to Aix from everywhere. The following year he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne again and at the Independants; these shows had enormous impact on the nascent Fauve and Cubist movements.

Paul Cezanne @ Web Museum
Modern Painting - The Impressionists And Their Allies
Cezanne - A Modern Old Master
French Painting - Paul Cezanne

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