Saturday, September 21, 2013

Artist of the Week: Paul Cézanne French Painter 1839-1906

Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavor to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. The French painter Paul Cézanne, who exhibited little in his lifetime and pursued his interests increasingly in artistic isolation, is regarded today as one of the great forerunners of modern painting, both for the way that he evolved of putting down on canvas exactly what his eye saw in nature and for the qualities of pictorial form that he achieved through a unique treatment of space, mass, and color. Cézanne was a contemporary of the Impressionists, but he went 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.''

Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence, France, on January 19, 1839. His father, Philippe Auguste, was the cofounder of a successful banking firm, which afforded Cézanne financial security that was unavailable to most of his fellow artists. In 1852 Paul Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon, where he met and became friends with Émile Zola. This friendship was important for both men and with youthful spirit they dreamed of successful careers in the Paris art world, Cézanne as a painter and Zola as a writer. Consequently, Cézanne began to study painting and drawing at the École des Beaux-Arts in Aix in 1856. His father was against the pursuit of an artistic career, and in 1858 he persuaded Cézanne to enter law school at the University of Aix. Although Paul Cézanne continued his law studies for several years, at the same time he was enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Aix, where he remained until 1861. In 1861 Paul Cézanne finally convinced his father to allow him to go to Paris, France.

"The House of Pere Lacroix in Auvers" french impressionism painting by French artist Paul CezanneIn Paris Paul Cézanne frequented the Louvre, where he met fellow artists such as Camille Pissarro and, later on, Claude Monet, Sisley, Bazille and Pierre Renoir. In September of the same year Paul Cézanne was refused admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and went back to Aix, to the great relief of his father, who offered him a position in his bank. But in November 1862 Paul Cézanne went back to Paris and took up painting again. Cezanne became acquainted with the revolutionary work of Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. Paul Cézanne also admired the fiery romanticism of Eugène Delacroix's paintings. But he was never entirely comfortable with Parisian life and periodically returned to Aix, where he could work in relative isolation. He retreated there, for instance, during the Franco-Prussian War.

Paul Cézanne's paintings from the 1860s are peculiar, bearing little overt resemblance to the artist's mature and more important style. The subject matter is brooding and melancholy and includes fantasies, dreams, religious images, and a general preoccupation with the macabre. His technique in these early paintings is similarly romantic, often impassioned. In the "Man in a Blue Cap" pigments have been applied with a palette knife and the surface is everywhere dense with impasto. The same qualities characterize the weird "Washing of a Corpse" (1867-1869), which seems to picture the events in a morgue and to be a pietà as well.

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