Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was a French artist born on January 19, 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France. Although known as a Post-Impressionist painter who used small brushstrokes used to make large detailed fields, it can be seen through his sketches and drawings that Cézanne carefully studied his subjects. He knew the importance of drawing in order to be a successful painter. He had over eighteen sketchbooks, in which he obsessively sketched items around him. Two of them are even published in Lilly Library! Three are shown below.
Studies of a Child’s Head, a Woman’s Head, a Spoon, and a Longcase Clock, ca. 1872-1873

Two Horses’ Heads

Cézanne’s father founded a banking firm, making a fortune that Cézanne eventually inherited. Therefore, unlike many artists, money was not an issue. He first began studying drawing under Joseph Gilbert at the Free Municipal School of Drawing in his hometown, and continued his drawing lessons at the University of Aix-En-Provence while attending law school there.

In 1861, Cézanne moved to Paris to follow his dream of becoming an artist, where he became friends with an Impressionist painter known as Camille Pissarro. Together, they grew as artists. In his earlier work, Cézanne is very concerned with the main figure in the landscape. They are the focus of the painting and are done very heavily with great importance. This can be seen in some of his earlier paintings, such as Dominique Aubert, the Artist’s Uncle, as a Monk, painted in 1866, and Skull and Candlestick, painted in 1866 as well. These paintings both show the great attention Cézanne gave to painting the objects of the painting, while neglecting to do much with the background.

Dominique Aubert, the Artist’s Uncle, as a Monk
Skull and Candlestick

Cézanne moved to Pontoise, France, in 1872. During this time, he worked closely with Pissarro and began to focus on drawing and painting exactly what he saw in nature. As he matured as an artist, Cézanne focused more on painting realistically from observation, but always had some trouble doing so. This lead to his style of simplifying objects to their basic geometric shapes and color planes. He painted them observationally, rather than imaginatively, in his later works, leading to lighter colors and strokes. This can be seen in The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L’estaque, painted in 1885. The buildings and mountains are quite geometrical, and the painting is done in almost sheets of color. There is a definite lightness in the brush that was not present in the works shown above. Apples and Oranges, painted by Cézanne in 1899, is a beautiful piece of art that demonstrates his newfound attention to the color and detail of the background, as well as the geometric shapes that can be seen even throughout the folds of the blankets.

The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L’estaque

Apples and Oranges

Paul Cézanne went through a period of seclusion where he lived in isolation for many years, and even went almost 20 years without showing his work due to his misalignment with other Impressionist drawings and the fact that a lot of his work did not receive great reviews from the public. However, he began to remerge in his last twenty years before dying of pneumonia in 1906.
I chose Paul Cézanne because I am very interested in French and French culture and history. I remember hearing about him in French class growing up in high school. Since French was my favorite class, I immediately became interested in his work. His art and life surrounding his art was influenced by the politics in the country at the time. I also find Cézanne inspiring and relatable as a person because he denied the wishes of his parents to pursue his dream of being an artist in Paris. Eventually, his father saw that he was doing what he loved and they made amends. Cézanne’s story and success is a good reminder for me and others my age that passion drives success, and to reach to attain your own goals even when those that you look up to disagree with your decisions. His careful study drawings done in more than eighteen sketchbooks that he kept, showing the importance of keeping a sketchbook and practicing drawing to master all forms of art. I felt this is a perfect lesson to keep in mind while taking Drawing!

Cézanne, Paul. "Apples and Oranges." ArtStor.  1899. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

Cézanne, Paul. "Dominique Aubert, the Artist’s Uncle, as a Monk." ArtStor. 1866. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

Cézanne, Paul. "Skull and Candlestick." ArtStor. 1866. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

Cézanne, Paul. "The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L’estaque." ArtStor. 1885. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

Cézanne, Paul, and Theodore Reff. Two Sketchbooks: The Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg to the Philadelphia Museum of Art : [this Book Is Published on the Occasion of an Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, May 21 - Sept. 17, 1989]. 1989. Lilly Library. Print.

"Paul Cézanne." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

Rewald, John. Paul Cézanne; a Biography. New York: Schocken, 1968. Print.

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