10 Things to Know about Paul Cézanne
Considered by many to be the “father of modern art,” Paul Cézanne was nothing short of innovative. Although his work is now considered to bridge the gap between 19th century Impressionism and 20th century Cubism, in his lifetime, his innovation often led to him being rejected by the art world. As a result, he became a recluse and assumed a mythical status. Want to find out more about this elusive figure? Join Artsper to discover 10 things about the legend that is Paul Cézanne.
1. Cézanne had to fight to become an artist
One thing to know about Paul Cézanne is that he came from money. This meant, in contrast to his contemporary counterparts, he was financially secure throughout his life. However, it also meant that his father wanted him to study law and join him in the banking world. After two years of studying law, Cézanne dropped out and it was only with the support of his mother that he succeeded in convincing his father to allow him to pursue art in Paris.
2. Paul Cézanne was a staple of the Salon des Réfusés
Cézanne submitted works to the Paris Salon, the official exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, every year between 1864 and 1882. At the time, however, the Académie rejected all works not of the Neoclassical or Romantic styles. As a result, Cézanne joined the ranks of Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Renoir and Degas in the Salon des Refusés.
3. Cézanne was extremely prolific
Given how prolific Cézanne was, it’s a wonder that he only recognized success for the final decade of his life. Over the course of his 46-year long career, Cézanne painted over 800 oil paintings and more than 400 watercolors. As a result, his works are found in galleries all over the world.
4. Paul Cézanne was known for his difficult character
Cézanne found it difficult to relate to the Impressionists. Throughout his life he was extremely shy, resulting in his touchiness and deliberate rudeness towards others. Pissarro was the only Impressionist patient enough to teach him even in spite of his difficult character.
5. Cézanne was close friends with Émile Zola
The pair were close childhood friends for many years. However, their friendship reached an abrupt end when, in 1888, Zola used Cézanne as the basis for the unsuccessful artist Claude Lantier in his novel L’Œuvre. Cézanne was never able to forgive the novelist and ties were cut.
6. His style is unique and easily recognizable
Cézanne’s style was characterized by small brush strokes which he then used to build up complex paintings. This technique was similar to that of the impressionists. However, given that he was prone to spending hours on a single line, his approach clearly lacked their impulsivity.
7. Cézanne is often considered to be the inventor of modern expressionism
In the early years of his career, Cézanne went through an artistic “Dark Period” (1861-1870). Between these years, his works were characterized by his use of dark colors, his canvases saturated in paint, and most notably, his creation of thick layers of paint using palette knives. The use of this technique is considered by many as the invention of modern expressionism.
8. In a way, Paul Cézanne died for his art
Whilst painting in a field at the age of 67, Cézanne was caught in a storm. He nevertheless continued to work for a further two hours. He collapsed on the way home and was picked up by a passing traveler. The following day he resumed his painting but fainted in the middle. Just a few days after the storm, he died of pneumonia.
9. His La Partie de Cartes is one of the most expensive artworks ever to be sold
When Cézanne’s series of five card player paintings was sold by Christie’s in 2012, their auction represented a leap in the art world. Never before had works sold for so much. The sale of La Partie de Cartes to the Qatari royal family for $250 million marked a turning point in art sales and testified to the canon of Cézanne’s work.
10. Paul Cézanne has since inspired generations of artists
Throughout his career, Cézanne took a different approach to those surrounding him. He saw the world in a different way, “modeled after the sphere, the cone and the cylinder.” By pursuing this in his work, Cézanne laid the foundations for Picasso and cubism, and his curiosity surrounding color and brushstroke influenced Matisse and the Fauvists.
Cézanne, The father of us all
Cézanne’s influence on the art world has been resounding. His gentle landscapes may not look like much at first glance, but Cézanne succeeded in changing the course of the art world throughout the 20th century. Despite being widely rejected and ridiculed by the art circle in his lifetime, Cézanne has gone on to influence the greats of the past century. As Picasso himself declared, Cézanne was “the father of us all…”
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