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Paul Cezanne Artist Biography

Paul Cézanne was fascinated with structure and the way painting can tackle nature. Through his use of colour and space, Paul Cézanne achieved an extraordinary degree of expressiveness and established new paradigms for the development of modern art. Working slowly and patiently, the painter transformed the restless power of his earlier years into the structuring of a pictorial language that can summon up a broad range of sensations for the viewer.

Since his death, his work has been enormously influential, most notably on the Cubist movement.

Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence, the son of a wealthy banker. He was a talented student. Among his school friends, Emile Zola introduced him to Édouard Manet and Gustave Courbet and persuaded him to move to Paris to study art. Destined by his father to study law, he was eventually, at the age of 22, allowed to devote himself entirely to painting. A yearly allowance from his father enabled him to work without distraction for the next 23 years.

The 1860's were to see the beginnings of Impressionism and Paul Cézanne met many of the key figures such as Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. His early work was unaccomplished, however, and it wasn't until 1873 that his skill became apparent in 'The House of the Hanged Man', which was exhibited at the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. Paul Cézanne exhibited again with the Impressionists in 1877 but refused to identify himself with the movement. Instead he was searching for a new way to approach the representation of nature. He talked of humanizing a landscape through the exercise of an artist's feelings.

From 1880 onwards, Paul Cézanne spent less time in Paris preferring the landscape of Provence. Upon his father's death in 1886, Paul Cézanne’s inheritance gave him financial independence. He continued to concentrate on his favorite themes such as portraits of his wife, Hortense and studies of the Provence landscape such as 'Mont Sainte Victoire' (c.1886-1888) and 'Aix: Rocky Landscape' (c.1887).

In 1895, the dealer Ambroise Vollard mounted Paul Cézanne's first one-man exhibition and this was to bring the artist out of the shadow of obscurity and by the end of the century he was referred to as 'Sage' by many of the avant-garde.

Paul Cézanne simultaneously achieved flatness and spatiality through his use of color, as color, while unifying and establishing surface, also tends to affect interpretations of space and volume. This characteristic of Cézanne's work is viewed as a pivotal step leading up to the abstract art of the 20th century.

"All things, particularly in art, are theory developed and applied in contact with nature. Painting is not only to copy the object, it is to seize a harmony between numerous relations."

(Paul Cézanne).

More art prints from Paul Cezanne

La Mont Sainte-Victoire By Paul Cezanne
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