Cézanne, Paul

Cézanne, Paul

biographical name


Self-Portrait, oil on canvas by Paul Cézanne, c. …—The Bridgeman Art Library/Getty Images

(born Jan. 19, 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France—died Oct. 22, 1906, Aix-en-Provence) French painter, one of the founders of modern painting. In 1859 he entered law school; in 1861 he left to study art in Paris. Critics denounced the works he exhibited at the Salon des Refusés (1863), but he persevered. He became associated with the Impressionists, exhibiting with them in 1874 and 1877. Unlike the other artists in the group, he emphasized the structure of objects rather than the vision presented by the light that emanated from them, basing his compositions on cubic masses, patches of colour, and architectonic lines. By the late 1870s he had broken with the Impressionists, exploring his own radically new way of simultaneously depicting deep space and flat design; his later work is therefore often classified as “Post-Impressionist.” From 1890 to 1905 he produced masterpieces, one after another: variations of the Mont Sainte-Victoire landscape, three versions of Boy in a Red Waist-Coat, countless still-life images, and the Bathers series of nudes. Public reception to his first one-man exhibition (1895) was cool, but he slowly gained acceptance. His work was a major source of inspiration for the Cubists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. See also Cubism; Impressionism; Post-Impressionism.

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