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|Paul Cezanne: Still Life with Plate of Cherries, 1885-1887|
I like this painting very much but it is not a great painting. I think it is very interesting because it says something important about the place of Paul Cezanne in modern art.
The first thing you may have noticed is that the two plates appear to be sitting on different planes. That is to say that the plate of cherries looks as though it has been tipped-up and we are viewing it from a slightly different angle than the plate of peaches and the vase behind them.
A generation earlier this would have been unthinkable and would have seemed to be incompetence but Cezanne knew exactly what he was doing. From a modern perspective he can be seen as a link between the Impressionists (he is generally labelled as a Post-Impressionist) and the Cubists. He was interested in binocular vision, wherein a separate image from each eye is combined to make one vision but, as we all know, if one closes alternate eyes two different views will be seen. He was also interested in seeing everything in nature as cones, spheres and cylinders. He later began to break the picture surface up into shapes. See, for example the picture below, completed in 1906, where he is experimenting with shape.
Picasso and Braque further developed these ideas and, between them, founded the Cubist movement with multiple view-points being a distinguishing feature. Picasso and Matisse acknowledged that Cezanne "is the father of us all".
Pablo Picasso, 1909
I think the influence that Cezanne had on Matisse was as a colourist. Colour was always an important feature of Cezanne's output and Picasso himself acknowledged Matisse's superiority in that departrment.