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Paul Cezanne

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Paul Cezanne

Cezanne was born in Southern France in 1839. Unlike many of his contemporaries Cezanne was the son of a banker, never having to struggle to make ends meet, instead inheriting a small fortune upon his father’s death. It wasn’t until years later that Cezanne officially decided to dedicate his life to art. In 1861 Cezanne left for Paris, the art capital of the world, against the wishes of his father. Once he arrived, Cezanne met and befriended Pissarro, one of the founding artists of Impressionism. Cezanne quickly became Pissarro’s pupil, joining his many painting excursions to the countryside.

Cezanne was born in Southern France in 1839. Unlike many of his contemporaries Cezanne was the son of a banker, never having to struggle to make ends meet, instead inheriting a small fortune upon his father’s death. It wasn’t until years later that Cezanne officially decided to dedicate his life to art. In 1861 Cezanne left for Paris, the art capital of the world, against the wishes of his father. Once he arrived, Cezanne met and befriended Pissarro, one of the founding artists of Impressionism. Cezanne quickly became Pissarro’s pupil, joining his many painting excursions to the countryside.

Unlike Pissarro, Cezanne didn’t work exclusively in landscape painting, but often deviated into that of figure painting. One of his frequent subjects was that of bathers. Again and again Cezanne returned to painting these nude female figures in outdoor settings near water, usually in a treed or forested setting with a natural body of water. One such painting by Cezanne is The Bathers, and is one of his most famous paintings. A large group of women lounge by a pool of water, some sitting, other s standing or resting against the bowed trunks of trees. These are not the soft, feminine forms that the impressionists portrayed in the most naturalistic way they could. The bathers are somewhat otherworldly looking, their features not quite discernable, form’s long, lanky and somewhat disproportionate. Broad, visible brush strokes are also used, though much more than many of the Impressionists would ever have dared on doing. White space is visible in the sky, not only because of the white, poufy clouds in the distance, but because of the white space still visible in areas between the broad, sweeping brush strokes of blue.

Another very famous painting by Cezanne is A Modern Olympia. This is Cezanne’s own interpretation of Manet’s famous painting, Olympia. The main subject is still the same - a nude woman lying on a bed and her servant. However, most of the similarities end there. Cezanne’s Olympia is curled onto the bed, her servant standing behind the bed covering her with a sheet. A man is sitting in the foreground on the painting. The style is much looser than Manet’s as well, the forms indistinct, faces not quite blurred or, in the case of the servant, nearly void of any features at all.  Objects scattered about the room are just as hazy as the backdrop of curtains and green walls. While A Modern Olympia pays tribute to the painting of Manet in subject and spirit, it remains very different in execution and style.

This great artist’s work is referred to as Impressionistic, Post – Impressionistic and even Expressionistic equally as often in textbooks. Cezanne’s work has some of each, being influenced by the founders of Impressionism such as Pissarro and Manet. No matter what Cezanne’s style may be entitled, it remains unique, something special. Only Cezanne used painted in this way. It is to Cezanne that modern art must pay tribute. He ushered in the Post-Impressionist movement, foreshadowing what was to come.