Paul Cezanne (1839 - 1906)
Cezanne was born in Aix-en-Provence to a wealthy family and received a classical education. His father had charted his path in life for him, to become a banker and a lawyer. He fled to Paris to paint but found out that he was technically inferior to his fellow students and gave up after five months and returned home. There he tried banking, failed and then spent time going back and forth between Paris and Aix many times between 1858 and 1872.
Cezanne met the young Impressionists but never became close to them except for Pissarro who took him under his wing. His violent temper and rudeness made him unbearable. He gradually soaked up the colors of Impressionism but was never interested in the way they tried to capture the look, feel, and aura of nature. Cezanne said that all of nature could be distilled to the cylinder, sphere and cone.
Cezanne was fascinated with the still life and painted over two hundred. In his late watercolors and landscapes he developed a magical series of brushstrokes that looked like dragonfly wings, ever shifting, overlapping and breaking apart and coming back together. Cubism was not far off.
Cezanne was an artist's artist, and his restrained pictures are impersonal and remote, much like his personality. His art misunderstood and discredited by art critics eventually challenged all the conventional values of painting through his insistence on personal expression and on the integrity of the painting itself.


Lesson#6 Paul Cezanne
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Last Update February 19, 2002