Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paul Cézanne

After browsing through various books of renowned artists, I arrived at the documented works and biographies of Paul Cezanne. Initially, I turned away and pursued alternative artists, because I knew Cezanne as a painter, and only a painter. However, I was inclined to return to the elegantly bound book, and found a wealth of drawings and sketches within it. Cezanne is credited with forming the passage between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century revolution, cubism. I was intrigued to see how a celebrated painter executed sketches and drawings.

The first image, The Eternal Feminine (late 1860’s), is a preliminary pencil and black crayon drawing of what would later become an oil painting on canvas. The image depicts males of various occupations worshiping a female figure. One of the male onlookers illustrated is romantic painter Eugene Delacroix, an inspiration to Cezanne. As seen in the image below, much of Cezanne’s early work had themes of passion and dark fantasy. I find this image particularly intriguing due to the conjoining element of romance and violence. The imprecise lines and varied line weight make for a dark image with aggressive motions. However, this is juxtaposed with the soft curves in the image and the sketch’s amorous title. Analysis of Cezanne’s early life asserts that the artist exhibited extreme restlessness. Perhaps the thematic tension in the image is a reflection of his emotional inquietude. Cezanne deserted the Romanticism of Delacroix is the early 1870’s, and adopted Impressionism.

View of Houses in L’Estaque (1882-85) is an example of Cezanne’s impressionist work. Below both the pencil sketch and the finished painting are shown. What caught my attention about this sketch was the technique, and how dissimilar it is to the above image. The comparison of these two works shows an unmistakable transformation undergone in the artist.  The sketch below utilizes hatching to give the landscape form and depth. I was surprised to find that the hatch marks are predominately horizontal and vertical, because the image contains many rounded, organic shapes. The dimension created using a relatively narrow range of gray values also impresses me. Nevertheless, Cezanne was a color enthusiast.  I try to render perspective through color alone. One must see one's model correctly and experience it in the right way, and furthermore, express oneself with distinction and strength," stated the painter.  Though Cezanne felt that color created perspective, I believe he was successful in doing so in the absence of color. However, I do believe Cezanne’s painting is more successful than the drawing in conveying light. The artist Camille Pissaro greatly influenced Cezanne’s early career by teaching him the impressionist technique of rendering outdoor light, as demonstrated below.

The final pencil drawing, Self Portrait (1886), depicts the struggle and restlessness that defined Cezanne’s life and career. Through many of his works, an agonized spirit filled with repressed emotion speaks from the paper or canvas. This image utilizes hatching and diversity in line wait to shade in Cezanne’s face, and depict the artist’s longing eyes. Through composition, Cezanne creates a great amount of negative space, yet the drawing feels finished. Perhaps this is indicative of the painter’s solitude. “Cezanne’s art is the result of a steadfast searching and a struggle with the self as well as the medium” (Schapiro). I chose to explore the work and life of Cezanne for this reason. His internal and external struggles are exhibited through his experimentation with various mediums and perpetual dissatisfaction. Cezanne’s cubist works towards the end of his career, (none of which are depicted above because they are mainly paintings), showed his rejection of traditional techniques and his previous works. Regardless, Cezanne is revered as an artistic pioneer, with a unique style and broad skill set.

Works Cited
"The Art Story.org - Your Guide to Modern Art." Paul Cézanne Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <http://www.theartstory.org/artist-cezanne-paul.htm>.
"Chapter 6: The Nineteenth Century III." Chapter 6: The Nineteenth Century III. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <http://www.historyofdrawing.com/History_of_Drawing/Nineteenth_Century_III.html>.
Cézanne, Paul, and Meyer Schapiro. Paul Cézanne. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1969. Print.
"The Eternal Feminine (Getty Museum)." The Eternal Feminine (Getty Museum). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=931>.
"Paul Cezanne Biography." Paul Cezanne Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2012. <http://www.paul-cezanne.org/biography.html>.

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