The art of Cezanne is considered to belong to the post-Impressionist era. However his revolutionary outlook towards painting paved the way for modern day art. Both Matisse and Picasso have said that
“Cezanne is the father of us all.”
Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, a small town in Provence. His father was a dominating wealthy banker, who pressured Cezanne to study law. While studying law, he also took drawing lessons at the local drawing academy.
Cezanne quickly abandoned law and moved to Paris together with his childhood friend, Emile Zola. He attempted twice to get accepted into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but was turned down both times. So like many other struggling and eager painters, he made frequent visits to the Louvre Museum and copied works by the Masters.
Keep good company – that is, go to the Louvre – Quote Paul Cezanne
Cezanne also enrolled into a studio where young arts could draw from a live model for a small fee. There, he met othe painters such as Pissarro, Monet and Renoir who were then unknown and struggling artists.
The friendship & Collaboration between Pissarro and Cezanne
Camille Pissarro noticed the art of Cezanne and the two developed a friendship that would continue for many years. Initially Pissarro mentored Cezanne but over time, Pissarro started to learn techniques from Cezanne as well.
When Cezanne moved to Pontoise to work closely with Pissarro, he learned the technique of plein-air painting (painting outdoors). His palette of colours also became more vibrant under Pissarro’s influence.
Cezanne exhibits with the Impressionists
In 1873, Cezanne exhibited in the Salon des Réfuses, an exhibition of many painters who the official Paris Salon rejected. The painters included Monet, Manet, Pissaro,
Renoir, Sisley, Morisot and Degas to name a few. However, the art critics scorned their exhibition and young Cezanne felt especially hurt. It is said that after this exhibition, he did not participate in any other exhibitions for another 20 years!
He left the Parisian capital for the quieter life in Aix-en-Provence and L’Estaque.
The Art of Cezanne in his Mature Years
Cezanne left Paris and the Impressionists. Over time his art evolved into new directions. Unlike the Impressionists, Cezanne did not accept the perception of transience and instead attempted to capture a scene with its permanent and solid qualities.
“I paint as I see and as I feel, and I feel very strongly.” Quote Paul Cezanne
The revolutionary idea of Cezanne was to create a new language, a new set of guidelines. His interest was to paint only what he saw “his viewpoint”. Cezanne’s idea was to look deeper and to record not a simplistic picture of the world but a complex and hesitant perception of it.
These are the ideas that paved the way to Modern Art of the new century. Art historians claim that Cézanne was a forerunner to the Cubism of Picasso and Braque and his painting became a catalyst for the abstract art of the 20th century.
Quote of Pablo Picasso “Cézanne is the father of us all.”
Paul Cézanne died at the age of 67 after contracting pneumonia.
Cézanne’s artistic career spanned more than forty years. As a prolific artist, he painted more than 900 oil paintings and 400 watercolours, including many incomplete works.
During his lifetime, he was not acknowledged and hardly participated in exhibitions in his home country. However over 100 years later, the art of Cezanne is hung on the walls of many prestigious museums all around the world.
In Paris, you can see Cezanne art collections in
Travelling to Aix-en-Provence?
In his home town, Aix-en-Provence, you can visit
- The Cezanne studio
- The Cezanne family home known as Bastide du Jas de Bouffan
- The Bibémus Quarries – walk the beautiful trail and enjoy the beauty of the extraordinary natural rock formations that inspired so many of Cezanne’s paintings
- Musee Granet – a wonderful art museum in Aix
- Mont Sainte-Victoire (his favourite muse)
Cezanne lived in Gardanne between 1885 and 1886. On the Frères hill, there is a path dotted with reproductions of Cezanne’s paintings, showing the development of Cezanne’s style. On this path, you will get lovely views of Saint-Victoire Mountain, a mountain that inspired so many of Cezanne’s landscapes. Press here for information.
If you are Marseille, take the half hour boat trip to the northern shores of L’Estaque. Today this port is part of Marseille but once it was a separate small port town.
This picturesque coastal town attracted a long list of artists who fell in love with the blue sparkling waters and rocky coastal cliffs. They left this town with a legacy of magnificent landscapes.
One of the most famous artists who came to this small port was Paul Cezanne. He came here with his mistress and illegitimate son to hide them away from his rich, dominating and disapproving father.
In L’Estaque you can walk the beautiful “Painter’s Trail”. This trail showcases some of the wonderful landscapes painted.. Throughout the two hour trail, you will see panels of paintings, showing you the views from the painter’s eyes. Press here for more details