Cézanne, Paul


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Cézanne, Paul

(pōl sāzän`), 1839–1906, French painter, b. Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne was the leading figure in the revolution toward abstraction in modern painting.

Early Life and Work

From early childhood Cézanne was a close friend of Émile ZolaZola, Émile
, 1840–1902, French novelist, b. Paris. He was a professional writer, earning his living through journalism and his novels. About 1870 he became the apologist for and most significant exponent of French naturalism, a literary school that maintained that
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, who for a time encouraged the painter in his work. Cézanne went to Paris in 1861; there he met PissarroPissarro, Camille
, 1830–1903, French impressionist painter, b. St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. In Paris from 1855, he came under the influence of Corot and the Barbizon school.
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, who strongly influenced his development. He divided his time between Provence and the environs of Paris until his retirement to Aix in 1899. Cézanne's early work is marked by a heavy use of the palette knife, from which he created thickly textured and violently deformed shapes and scenes of a fantastic, dreamlike quality. Although these impulsive paintings exhibit few of the features of his later style, they anticipate the expressionist idiom of the 20th cent.

Through Pissarro, Cézanne came to know ManetManet, Édouard
, 1832–83, French painter, b. Paris. The son of a magistate, Manet went to sea rather than study law. On his return to Paris in 1850 he studied art with the French academic painter Thomas Couture.
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 and the impressionist painters (see impressionismimpressionism,
in painting, late-19th-century French school that was generally characterized by the attempt to depict transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, and by the use of pure, broken color to achieve brilliance and luminosity.
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). He was concerned, after 1870, with the use of color to create perspective, but the steady, diffused light in his works is utterly unrelated to the impressionist preoccupation with transitory light effects. House of the Hanged Man (1873–74; Louvre) is characteristic of his impressionist period. He exhibited at the group's show of 1874 but later diverged from the impressionist style and developed a firmer structure in his paintings.

Mature Work

Cézanne sought to "recreate nature" by simplifying forms to their basic geometric equivalents, utilizing contrasts of color and considerable distortion to express the essence of landscape (e.g., Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1885–87, Phillips Coll., Washington, D.C.), still lifes (e.g., The Kitchen Table, 1888–90, Louvre), and figural groupings (e.g., The Card Players, 1890–92; one version, S.C. Clark Coll., New York City). His portraits are vital studies of character, e.g., Madame Cézanne (c.1885; S. S. and V. White Coll., Ardmore, Pa.) and Ambroise Vollard (Musée du Petit Palais, Paris).

Cézanne developed a new type of spatial pattern. Instead of adhering to the traditional focalized system of perspective, he portrayed objects from shifting viewpoints. He created vibrating surface effects from the play of flat planes against one another and from the subtle transitions of tone and color. In all his work he revealed a reverence for the integrity and dignity of simple forms by rendering them with an almost classical structural stability. His Bathers (1898–1905; Philadelphia Mus. of Art) is the monumental embodiment of a number of Cézanne's visual systems.

The artist's later works are largely still lifes (among them his famous apples), male figures, and recurring landscape subjects. While retaining a solid substructure, they seem freer and more spontaneous and employ more transparent painterly effects than earlier works. Cézanne worked in oil, watercolor, and drawing media, often making several versions of his works.

Influence and Collections

Cézanne's influence on the course of modern art, particularly on the development of cubismcubism,
art movement, primarily in painting, originating in Paris c.1907. Cubist Theory

Cubism began as an intellectual revolt against the artistic expression of previous eras.
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, is enormous and profound. His theories spawned a whole new school of aesthetic criticism, especially in England, that has ranked him among the foremost French masters. There are fine collections of his paintings in the Louvre; the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

Bibliography

See M. Doran et al., ed., Conversations with Cézanne (new ed. 2001); his letters, ed. by J. Rewald (tr. 1941) and ed. by A. Danchev (tr. 2013); his drawings, ed. by A. Chappuis (1973); his watercolors, ed. by T. Reff (1963); catalogues raisonnés by A. Chappuis (2 vol., tr. 1973) and J. Rewald (2 vol., 1997); biographies by J. Lindsay (1969), J. Rewald (new ed. 1986), and A. Danchev (2012); studies by M. Schapiro (2d ed. 1962), W. Andersen (1970), S. Geist (1988), R. Fry (new ed. 1989), and F. Cachin et al. (1996).

Cézanne, Paul

 

Born Jan. 19, 1839, in Aix-en-Provence; died there Oct. 22, 1906. A leading French post-impressionist painter.

Cézanne attended a drawing school in Aix from 1858 to 1862 and the Académie Suisse in Paris from 1861 to 1865. Through his childhood friend E. Zola and his fellow student C. Pissarro, he met Manet, Monet, Renoir, and other future impressionists. Beginning in 1874 he exhibited with the impressionists, but the salon jury consistently, except in 1882, rejected his work. Cezanne’s early paintings show the influence of Veronese, Tintoretto, Delacroix and Daumier. His interpretation of their creative traditions, however, was often exaggerated and resulted in phantasmagoric scenes marked by unrestrained expressiveness (L’Orgie, 1864–68, private collection, Paris; L’Assassinat, 1867–70, Wildenstein Gallery, New York). Cezanne’s works of the 1860’s also reflect the influence of Courbet, with their somewhat ponderous “objectivity” in handling the pigment and their dark and muted tones (Le Poêle dans l’atelier, 1865–68, private collection, London).

Beginning in the 1870’s, Cézanne developed his own system of painting, which was essentially perfected by the end of the next decade. He turned to plein-air painting, and his palette became lighter. A departure from impressionism became evident. Cézanne was interested neither in the changeability of colors in the atmosphere nor in the dynamics of his surroundings. He also did not care for fortuitous chiaroscuro effects. Instead he was concerned with the stable laws of color relations and the material intensity and tangible objectivity of nature (The Suicide’s House, 1872–73; A Turn in the Road—both in the Museum of Impressionism, Paris). Determined to understand nature while elaborating a single motif over a long span of time, Cézanne strove to create a “classical” art, one set apart in his mind from everything transient and insignificant. He sought to reveal the grandeur and perfection of nature, not subject to changes in time or space, and the organic unity of natural forms. In his portraits (Portrait of L. Guillaume, 1879–82, National Gallery, Washington), thematic compositions (Pierrot and the Harlequin, 1888, Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, Moscow), landscapes (Montagne le Victoire, 1900, Hermitage, Leningrad), and still lifes (Still Life With Apples and Oranges, 1895–1900, Museum of Impressionism, Paris), the objects represented symbolize the equilibrium of natural forces: they are monumentally static, perfectly finished, and self-contained. Cézanne produced epic landscapes with spherical panoramic effects, working mainly with shades of the three colors—green, blue, yellow—now exquisitely refined, now sharply contrasted (Montagne le Victoire at Dusk, c. 1905, Pushkin Museum, Moscow). His colors helped define spatial planes, which the artist combined harmoniously with precise line and clarity of composition. In his still lifes Cézanne brought out the plastic richness of the objective world, stressing the structure of his subjects, lending “weight” to form through the use of pure colors, and making use of reverse perspective, that is, unfolding the object in the direction of the viewer (Peaches and Pears, late 1880’s, the A. S. Pushkin Fine Arts Museum in Moscow).

During his last years, Cézanne often painted female and male bathers, seeking to synthetize in many-figured compositions plasticity with clarity and monumentality. At the same time, his later works exhibit marked contradictions. As he deliberately simplified actual masses and their spatial relations by reducing them to the simplest geometric forms, he not only stressed the structural harmony of the universe but also achieved a considerable abstractness of design.

The principles of Cezanne’s art, which in their entirety had a profound influence on 20th-century painting and on the work of artists of diverse style, were nonetheless often given a onesided interpretation. Followers of avant-garde trends either hypertrophied the forms in a deadly way (Cézannism), intensified the color to the utmost (fauvism), or developed Cezanne’s geometrical treatment of natural bodies and, as a result, turned to abstraction (cubism).

REFERENCES

Vollard, A. Sezann. Leningrad, 1934. (Translated from French.)
Iavorskaia, N. V. Sezann. Moscow, 1965.
Vseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vol. 6, book 1. Moscow, 1965.
Perruschot, H. Sezann. (Article by V. N. Prokof’eva.) Moscow, 1966. (Translated from French.)
Rusakova, R. P. Sezann (album). Moscow, 1970.
Pol’ Sezann, perepiska, vospominaniia sovremennikov. Compiled, annotated, and with an introductory article by N. V. Iavorskaia. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from French.)
Venturi, L. Cezanne, son art, son oeuvre, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1936.
Rewald, J. The Ordeal of P. Cézanne. London, 1950.
Badt, K. Die Kunst Cézannes. Munich, 1956.
Loran, E. Cézanne’s Composition. Berkeley, 1963.

V. A. MARKOV