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Who is Paul Cezanne?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Paul Cezanne is known as one of the most talented Post-Impressionist painters. Whereas Impressionism focused on light and color, the Post-Impressionists wanted more depth in their art with much more concentration on form. Cezanne was also pivotal in art movements such as cubism and he influenced Pablo Picasso.

The work of Cezanne features an innovative way of representing nature, color and form by using an ordered method of artistic application. His approach inspired cubists and cutting edge artists. Cezanne said that "Everything in nature takes its form from the sphere, the cone and the cylinder" and cubism was founded on these principles of form. Pablo Picasso, along with Georges Braque, was a leader in the cubist modern art movement.

The Post-Impressionist artists experimented with meaning outside just what the surface of the painting represented, yet were still influenced by Impressionism's use of light to add dimension to objects. Paul Cezanne and other Post-Impressionists experimented with brighter colors and sharper edges than the Impressionist works had shown. Cezanne is considered a master at creating form with color in both planes and brushstrokes.

Born 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France, Cezanne was a banker's son and was raised in an environment of wealth. His family wanted him to become a lawyer and Cezanne did study law while also studying art. Eventually, however, he gave up law for art and went to the Academie Suisse in Paris to learn all he could and develop his talent. His early artistic influences included the works of Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet. It was Courbet who inspired Cezanne's layering of paint onto his paintings using a palette knife.

By the mid-1870s Paul Cezanne created color and form with controlled brushstrokes to add the look of fullness and dimension to objects. His still life paintings went beyond capturing light in purely an Impressionist manner. For example, in Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, he uses many subtle tones of color to add shape to the forms of the fruit and flowers.

In the early 1880's, Cezanne began painting landscapes of Provence. His works of houses and boats used planes of color to create depth. He married in 1886 and had one son, Paul Cezanne, Jr.

Cezanne's 1890s set of five paintings, The Card Players, features figures of Provencal peasants playing cards. The works are highly acclaimed for their subtle variations in color that create realistic human forms. On 22 October, 1906, Paul Cezanne died of pneumonia and complications of diabetes in his birthplace of Aix-en-Provence.

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Discussion Comments
By Shani Skinny — On Jan 19, 2011

Paul Cezanne was really a great artist. i love him!

By anon126513 — On Nov 13, 2010

Thanks. it helped me a lot with my homework. Thanks again.

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