Paul Cézanne (19 January 1839 é 22 October 1906) 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. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne éis the father of us allé cannot be easily dismissed.
Cézanne's work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. The paintings convey Cézanne's intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.
Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in Provence in the south of France. At the age of ten, Paul entered the Saint Joseph school, where he studied drawing under Joseph Gibert, a Spanish monk, in Aix. In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collége Bourbon (now Collége Mignet), where he met and became friends with émile Zola, as well as Baptistin Bailleéthree friends who would come to be known as éles trois inséparablesé (the three inseparables).
Cézanneés early work is often concerned with the figure in the landscape and comprises many paintings of groups of large, heavy figures in the landscape, imaginatively painted. Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style that was to influence the Impressionists enormously. Nevertheless, in Cézanne's mature work we see the development of a solidified, almost architectural style of painting. Throughout his life he struggled to develop an authentic observation of the seen world by the most accurate method of representing it in paint that he could find. To this end, he structurally ordered whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes.
Cézanne was interested in the simplification of naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials; he wanted to 'treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone' (a tree trunk may be conceived of as a cylinder, an apple or orange a sphere, for example). Additionally, the concentrated attention with which he recorded his observations of nature resulted in a profound exploration of binocular vision, which results in two slightly different simultaneous visual perceptions, and provides us with depth perception and a complex knowledge of spatial relationships. We see two different views simultaneously; Cézanne employed this aspect of visual perception in his painting to varying degrees. The observation of this fact, coupled with Cézanne's desire to capture the truth of his own perception, often compelled him to render the outlines of forms so as to at once attempt to display the distinctly different views of both the left and right eyes. Thus Cézanne's work augments and transforms earlier ideals of perspective, in particular single-point perspective.
Cézanne's paintings were shown in the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusés in 1863, which displayed works not accepted by the jury of the official Paris Salon. The Salon rejected Cézanne's submissions every year from 1864 to 1869. Cézanne continued to submit works to the Salon until 1882. In that year, through the intervention of fellow artist Antoine Guillemet, Cézanne exhibited Portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, Father of the Artist, reading l'Evénement, 1866 (National Gallery, Washington), his first and last successful submission to the Salon.
Before 1895 Cézanne exhibited twice with the Impressionists (at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877). In later years a few individual paintings were shown at various venues, until 1895, when the Parisian dealer, Ambroise Vollard, gave the artist his first solo exhibition. Despite the increasing public recognition and financial success, Cézanne chose to work in increasing artistic isolation, usually painting in the south of France, in his beloved Provence, far from Paris. He concentrated on a few subjects and was highly unusual for 19th-century painters in that he was equally proficient in each of these genres: still lifes, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers.
For the last, Cézanne was compelled to design from his imagination, due to a lack of available nude models. Like the landscapes, his portraits were drawn from that which was familiar, so that not only his wife and son but local peasants, children and his art dealer served as subjects. His still lifes are at once decorative in design, painted with thick, flat surfaces, yet with a weight reminiscent of Gustave Courbet. The 'props' for his works are still to be found, as he left them, in his studio (atelier), in the suburbs of modern Aix.
Although religious images appeared less frequently in Cézanne's later work, he remained a devout Roman Catholic and said, éWhen I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.é
One day, Cézanne was caught in a storm while working in the field. Only after working for two hours under a downpour did he decide to go home; but on the way he collapsed. He was taken home by a passing driver. His old housekeeper rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation; as a result, he regained consciousness. On the following day, he intended to continue working, but later on he fainted; the model with whom he was working called for help; he was put to bed, and he never left it again. He died a few days later, on 22 October 1906. He died of pneumonia and was buried at the old cemetery in his beloved hometown of Aix-en-Provence.
[Source: Paul Cézanne, Wikipedia]
See also the Cézanne page at Artsy