Sunday, 15 April 2012

Paul Cezanne, Final Draft.

Paul Cezanne

figure 1

 Introduction : Paul cezanne, the father of the 20th century

In the late 19th century, Paul Cezanne, a French oil painter, was characterised as modernism’s fountainhead who successfully managed to break away from Impressionism. Cezanne’s work became a catalyst for the abstract art of the 20th century, and his theories were important for the groups which were founded later on known as the Fauves ( wild beasts ) and cubists who had used his discoveries and developed  his idea further. He died in the autumn of 1906, he avoided contact with the influential personalities of the contemporary art scene, that’s why he was, a “famous unknown” ( Cantz, 2004, p.14).   (pamela swanson 1991, his influence )

Cezanne was the only artist of his time who succeeded in spanning several generations to become a 20th century painter because of the unique style of  using flattened perspective, structures compositions, and his palette knife technique for creating patches of color. Also the way that he evolved of putting down on canvas exactly what his eye saw in nature and for the unique qualities of pictorial form that he achieved through a unique treatment of space, mass, and color. Moreover, his linear , paraller burshwork and his direct sketching onto the canvas, creating works that mostly appeared unfinished , could possibily lie between  the two: this explanation will consider him that he was the father of modern art , or a catalyst for the art of the avant-garde ( Kendall, 2003, p.45-47).

During the greater part of his own lifetime, Cezanne was largely ignored, and rejected by the official paris salon in 1870 because his work was radically different from that of his contemporaries. Although he never cared about critics who had failed to appreciate his revolutionary art,he isolated himself in both Paris and Aix. And he ended his long friendship with Zola, because his antisocial mind found a disappointment  and embarrassment at Zola's writing ( L’Oeuvre ). In that book Zola recognised Cezanne as portrait of this unsuccessful painter. Emile Zola somewhat made sure that no character in his novel was fully represented as a person he knew in real life. But the similarities were enough so that many of Zola’s friends were offended; Paul Cezanne for example, who never spoke to Zola again after publication of The Masterpiece. However, Zola’s own judgments come out through the story because he doesn’t appear to understand the new style of painting ( Rewald,2006, p.161) .
Figure 2

Besides, he was seeking not to replicate the outer appearance of the landscape but to express what he described as a “ harmony paraller with nature “ through a new language of painting. And indeed the great figural works such as of his last years seemed to reveal curious distortions. Many of Cezanne's early works were painted in dark tones applied with heavy, fluid pigment, suggesting the moody, romantic expressionism of previous generations.  And he used  small geometrical shapes and varied brushstrokes to create accurate elements (hoog,1994, p.24).

Also, he used to paint  the world just as he saw and observed without concern for idealization. “ I paint as I see and as I feel, and I have very strong feelings “ – paul cezanne ( hoog,1994,p.66)
Cezanne was introduced to a new technique for rendering outdoor light. Along with Claude Monet and other painters, they had developed a painting style that involved working in the outdoors named as (en plein air). This tecnique included employing small touches of pure color, without the use of preparatory sketches. They  were hoping  to capture the natural effects as well as their own emotional states as they belived that  artists stand before nature (hoog,1994,p.63-64).
“ No painting done indoors, in the studio, will ever be as good as anything done in the open Air “ – Paul cezanne  ( hoog,1994, p.165 ) .
And during a short time, Cezanne shifted from dark tones to bright hues and his artworks began to concentrate on farmland and rural villages.  Also another technique was shown in Cezanne’s landscape paintings was the overlapping, which is basically the way that forms are broken up and shifted aparts as a way of abstraction was introduced in Cubism.  ( lewis,1992, p.128)

 Self portraits :
Figure 3

The first to begin with, during the middle years of 1890s Cezanne painted his only self portrait , his interest in capturing his own appearance was ongoing and continuos.
The artist’s psyche at that time was as the following; the astonishingly communicative eyes, gazing out at the viewer with tremendous intensity simultaneiously challenge and inquire but at the same time establish distance.
This gaze is heightened by the sharp bend of the eye brows and especially by the pointed  (S-curve) over the right eye which tends the entire face a troubled expression. 
There are four categories for Cenzanne’s self portraits, the total is 25 self portraits :
·         12 of them , has a small scale, shows only his head, often turned sharply over his shoulder .
·         11 of them , may be described as busts
·          One of them is a three-quarter view ( painted after a photograph )
·         Finally the principal work in this genre is the present painting , the largest of the entire group and only one which Cezanne depicts himself explicitly as an artist
( Cantz, 2004, p.14-15 ) .

Figure 4


o   Still life :
Figure 5

Cezanne’s still lifes composed the abstract principles of formal design upon the most ordinary things. For his Art work “ still life with skull and candlestick “ he portrays the traditional objects such as a skull with it’s lower jaw missing which was a feature of almost all of his skulls,  a dying rose with a broken stem, and the open book with illegible script  were long established symbols of ( transience in european still life painting ). It was a  technique so brutal as to redouble the symbolism of the theme (Hoog,1994,p.36 ).

Cezzane did not create a series of works about the skulls subject until shortly before 1900, the subject was little interest to him especially because of the death of his mother and the awareness of his own advancing age brought this theme to the fore once again (Hoog,1994,p.37 ) .
o   Society Criticism

Paul cezanne believed that the artist’s success in solving techniqal problems should guide the artist in rendering his sensation. In 1863 He came up againist the salon jury , when he sent a painting that was rejected. And during the early decades of the twentieth century, An american early modernist art criticism was formed about Cezanne’s works. They used the main term “plastic’’ to describe the solidity in Cezanne’s pictorial images. Harvard professor of psychology and philosophy William understood “ plastic ’’  “ to imply both the flexibility of matter yielding to pressure and the physical property characteristic of a concrete form, such as the one found in Cezanne’s painting “  (stavitsky, rothkopf , 2009, p.134 ).

The association between Cezanne and modern art was developing by  the American audience during the early of 1899. For example; Morton Schamberg (An American painter and photographer)  traced the whole modern movement to Cezanne                                         (stavitsky, rothkopf , 2009, p.135 ).

In 1910 Charles Caffin pointed to the significance of construction in cezanne’s work and then refered him as an artist who started the modern painting on a new use of color       ( hoog,1994,p.136).

Next, another critic had determined that form was a psychological factor and that cezanne’s artwork has a plastic reality and outwardness which the imagined object wholly lacks ( Rishel, Sachs, 2009 , p.234).

Clement Greenberg’s impression about Cezanne can seem harsh, he described a late “ Chateau Noir” as sublime but one of three paintings , and the rest of the artworks were not measured up. He argued that  “ the problem that preoccupied Cezanne that of translating volume and distance to a flat surface without denying its flatness ’’ and he concluded that Cezanne had been too far ahead of his time ( hoog,1994,p.110).

Marsen Hartley refered that cezanne does not paint objects but rather his visual experiece of them. Add to that, he considered cezanne neither a painter of psychograms, exept in what is represented as his failed romantic early period , nor a painter of perfect objects ( Marsden Hartley, 1918 )  ( ).

Over all, Cezanne who referred himself as primitive, became an artist who was submissive to nature, he has changed from a romantic to a cultural revolunationary.Though he was judged by most contemporary critics, he understood, respected, and made extensive use of the greatest masterpieces of the past. At the same time that cezanne was suffering from being away from both avant-garde and academic Paris, he suffered a number of  personal events that further affected his art such his his mother’s death. 

In other words,  there is no doubt that Cezanne had opened doors onto totally unimagined artistic coridors. Although critical sympathy and public acceptance came to Cezanne only in the last decade of his career. His quest to see through appearances always drew admiration among his colleagues. And the question of " finished or unifished "  will always remain about Cezanne's artworks. Next, his hope that his paintings would serve as a form of education for other artists was achieved when a number of important painters purchased his work, like
Henri Matisse who described Cezanne  as " The father of us all "

To sum up, Cezanne has changed art by combining nature with imagination , one man has opened the door for abstraction and inspired countless artists world wide. He was like no one before and like no one since. And since he influenced some of the best that have ever been ; Picasso who had said about cezanne " My one and only master " , then his legacy is ever lasting.

Description : In this short video Csaba Markus at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts discussing Cezanne's "Buffet" and cubism.

Description : Paul cezanne’s still life ( apples ) which describes how his art work were unfinished and sketchy but still cezanne could draw beautifuly.. and how he was trying to find his own unique way to paint, see and experience.

Figure 5 : still life with skull and candlestick by Paul Cezanne- oil on canvas
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Figure 4 :  self portrait holding a palette by Paul Cezanne - oil on canvas (1890)
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Figure 3 : Self portrait ( water color medium )  by Paul Cezanne ( 1895 ) -
Figure 1 : Self portrait by Paul Cezanne- oil on canvas  ( 1862-1864 )  (

1 comment:

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