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Paul Cézanne

France Born in: 1839 Masterpieces
Movement: Cubism

Paul Cézanne is the painter who paved the way for modern art. Considered the father of modern art, he influenced the art of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and many others… We know Provence through his paintings.

Born in 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, he met Zola from his childhood and together they discovered the region. Very early on, he developed great certainty about his vocation: art. On the other hand, he strongly opposed his banker father who wanted him to pursue law studies. It is his friend Zola, to whom he is united by an almost fraternal bond, who will convince him to join Paris to follow his own aspirations.

Inspired by Delacroix or Courbet, he already deviates from the classic rules and imposes his temperament. He joined the Swiss Academy and met the Impressionists there. Paris represents for him the rebellion against his father. He also goes against the current stylistic trends of the bourgeois painters of the capital and he expresses it with fervor in his paintings. His works with strong contrasts of blacks and whites then evoke those of Manet.

His painting is described as "cowardly". He uses a knife a lot (like Gustave Courbet) to draw thick and irregular lines. His style is manly and perfectly shows his visceral troubles, his personal demands, his passions.

He sometimes incorporates fictitious elements in his portraits to reflect his interpretations. He also turns to romantic scenes inspired by Véronèse, Rubens and Delacroix, whom he admires a lot, but also to violent scenes that recall Goya's paintings and where he creates strong contrasts in order to underline the violence.

Not very sociable and impulsive, his uniqueness is reflected in his works. He often introduces his own character. Women are also present in their work. Protector or femme fatale, he attributes to her the characteristics of great historical, mythological or artistic figures: Eve, Olympia or Salammbô are represented.

Throughout his career, he excelled in still lifes. He puts as much fervor into it, but opts for a less baroque and less romantic style.

He acquired more control over his feelings and his work over time, especially from 1872, when the influence of Impressionism on his art became more apparent. His friend Pissarro introduced him to slowness, to observation and no longer to impulse. Some works remain dark but he also produces canvases in brighter, more joyful colors. The turning point is marked in his career, he is now part of the avant-garde.

The rebellion is always palpable in his portraits, but we feel him more resigned, more confident. He gradually moved away from Impressionism for a form of constructivism.

Like Poussin, he wishes to integrate bodies into the landscape so that they become one. He goes more frequently to Provence, and pays all his attention to fitness. Unlike the Impressionists, he does not wish to capture what the eye sees at the present moment, but what is timeless. It therefore incorporates more light to reflect the shape. His parallel brushstrokes give a remarkable texture to the painting. The shapes are linked and coherent: the houses resemble the hills in the background, the facial features like folds of clothes…

As the cubists did decades later, he complicates the reading of the work by choosing the perspectives according to what he wishes to show.

His paintings of Sainte-Victoire, bathers, and trees are incredibly avant-garde and will inspire the entire modern movement of the 20th century ...

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