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Cezanne Essay, Research Paper

Candy Elliott-Ries

Art 101 ET

Mr. Tim Hahn

Final Paper

Paul C?zanne

C?zanne was born at Aix-en-Provence in the south of France on January 19, 1839. C?zanne developed artistic interests at an early age. His father was a common laborer then became a hatter and, eventually, a successful wealthy banker. He had high expectations for Paul and would never fully accept the notion of his son becoming an artist. Sadly, his father died before realizing the extraordinary accomplishments his son had achieved. He went to school in Aix, forming a close childhood friendship with the future novelist Emile Zola. From 1852 to 1858, young Cezanne studied humanities at the College Bourbon in Aix. C?zanne pursued his education, studying law in Aix from 1859 to 1861; however, his interest and love for the arts would not subside and he continued attending drawing classes. Although C?zanne knew he was going against his father’s wishes, he would not be detoured from his dream. Therefore, in 1861, he told his father that he was going to be an artist; furthermore, he was going to join Zola in Paris. His father’s never really approved of his decision but eventually agreed to give him financial support. Later, C?zanne received an inheritance which further allowed him to study and work in Paris somewhat comfortably.

C?zanne remained an outsider to the major artist circle of Paris. From 1864 to 1869, he submitted his work to the official SALON, but the pieces were continually rejected. His works were extremely personal in character, dealing with bizarre subjects of disturbance and fantasy in austere, somber colors and profound intense compositions. The years from 1865 to 1870 are often regarded as C?zanne’s early romantic period. He met Camille Pissarro, with whom he painted outside Paris at Auvers, and through her became a part of the impressionist group. C?zanne’s life was one of isolation; he had few friends and rarely exhibited his work. He married and had a son, but still was isolated. However, he would participate in their exhibits in 1874 and again in 1877. In the early 1870s, he assimilated the ideals of color and natural light of Impressionism and relaxed his brushwork; yet he retained his own sense of mass and the interaction of space, as in House of the Hanged Man. In the late 1870s, C?zanne entered the phase known as “constructive.” C?zanne was a contemporary of the impressionists. He knew had to lay on canvas the true qualities of space, mass, and color that lay within himself. He ventured beyond their interests in the individual brushstroke and the fall of light onto objects, to create, in his words, “something more solid and durable, like the art of the museums.”

. C?zanne’s also painted may Bather themes. He portrayed women, usually with their backs towards the viewer, as pyramidal groups. Men were portrayed as almost pieces of architecture. Women bathers are usually presented in large pyramidal groups, overlapping, mostly with their backs to the viewer. His men generally face forward, almost in an architectural essence. They did not appear overlapping as many of the women, but rather as individuals in the same space. Later work showed C?zanne’s interest and passion, distinguished by the arrangement of corresponding, yet antagonistic brushstrokes in formations that build up a sensation of mass and depth. This style was his main forte until the early 1890s. His series of paintings titled Card Players (1890-92) introduced a new perception-atmosphere.

Finally, living as a solitary in Aix , C?zanne moved into his late phase. He would paint still life paintings of everyday existences such as apples, statuary, and tablecloths. Bathers were still a subject of his paintings. He looked out across the valley from his studio and painted the famous Mont Sainte-Victoire. The landscapes of the final years, much affected by C?zanne’s contemporaneous practice in watercolor, have a more transparent and unfinished look, while the last figure paintings are at once more somber and spiritual in mood. By the time of his death on October 22, 1906, C?zanne’s art had began to be shown and seen across Europe, and it became a fundamental influence on the Fauves, the Cubists, and virtually all advanced art of the early twentieth century. “I have perhaps come too early,” an aging Paul C?zanne told a young artist.” I was the painter of your generation more than my own.” It was not until 1895 that C?zanne, at age 56, was bestowed a full-scale one-man show in Paris, eleven short years before his death. C?zanne left future generations and ours with more than 950 oil paintings and nearly 650 watercolor works of art. C?zanne has personally related still life, landscapes and portraits, many of which were self portraits that evolved from an unsure young man into an almost sage. He is often referred to as the father of modern art.

I viewed C?zanne’s artwork at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park, Missouri. The works were displayed on the main floor in the French Impressionist Gallery. I was amazed at the impact of the picture Bathers (1890-91), which is an oil on canvas. The subjects appeared in a group setting, yet somehow, each was an individual. C?zanne portrayal of scene was obviously personal. The men, although in the company of others, are somewhat isolated within themselves. Although C?zanne lived his entire life almost isolated within his own world and somewhat of an outcast even in his own family, maybe he did long for companionship. Interaction between the boldly brushed individuals cannot be imagined. I try to imagine what has brought this group of men together. The light is too significant to be the dawn of a new morning or the dusk of a fallen night. Then why, sense fraternity and festivity are not the reasons, are these men bathing in the height of the day? Maybe this is just the sort of mystery the picture was supposed to provoke.

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