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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Painting of the Month (38) March 2013: Cezanne

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.


rob said...

The first painting is a gem.

Cezanne is one of my favourite painters.

Thanks Bazza. I don't often comment but I read most of your posts.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I have always liked Cezanne's work. Thank you for pointing out things I would have never noticed, Bazza. You always do a wonderful job explaining great art.

bazza said...

Hi Rob. It's spooky but I sense your presence around the place! Thanks for commenting, it's always good to hear from you.

bazza said...

Arleen: Hi, thanks for your kind words. I do really enjoy doing this.
I think this is the third or fourth time I have chosen Cezanne for 'Painting of the Month' so I share your good taste!

klahanie said...

Hey bazza,

I say, old chap, I rather like the work of Cezanne. I find the rich colours rather alluring and I shall now go for a cherry.

As per usual, an informative posting by your illustrious self. Thank you, me old mucker.


bazza said...

Hi Gary. I love the colours that he used. I think he must have bought the greens that he was fond of in wholesale quantities!
Thanks for looking in.

All Consuming said...

Great post bazza. And the colours are indeed lovely :)

John said...

Hi Bazza,
As usual, a most informative and interesting post! Your knowledge of all things artistic never ceases to amaze!

bazza said...

AC: Aye lass, they are!

bazza said...

John: Coming from the Birdman of Peterborough that is praise indeed!

Alicia said...

Cezanne has long been a favorite -- I think I have said that every time you've featured one of his paintings. I'd never thought about it before, but his use of color is probably why. Monet, for example, uses too much pink and purple for my taste -- his paintings are wonderful, but I couldn't live with the palette. Cezanne? I could have him in my living room for a long time!

bazza said...

Hello Alicia. I know what you mean about Monet but I quite like his use of colour.
You have spotted my weakness for Cezanne; I think this is the third or fourth time I have featured him in this series!
I do have Cezanne in my living room (only reproductions of course!)

Cheerful Monk said...

I just came across your blog. I'm just now learning a bit about art and yesterday wrote a post about Cezanne. What a coincidence. :)

bazza said...

Cheerfuk Monk: Hi. I read your posts about Cezanne and Pollock. I like the way you nudge your readers into thinking a bit deeper about what they are reading. That's a great technique; I might use it sometime!

Dhiraj said...

Great blog.
Cezanne chose to dig art by conveying presence through solidity. He agonizes ‘to realize his sensations’. His sensation is not a fleeting stimulus but a weighted optical whole that has a concrete richness with tangible attributes that challenge the artist to realize them on canvas. Cezanne feels almost a moral