The Artistic Vision of Paul Cézanne: The Father of Modernism

Early Life and Artistic Beginnings

Paul Cézanne was born on January 19, 1839, in Aix-en-Provence, France. Initially, he pursued law at his father’s behest but soon abandoned it to follow his passion for painting. Cézanne’s early works were heavily influenced by the Romanticism of Eugène Delacroix and the Realism of Gustave Courbet.


Breaking Away from Tradition

Before Cézanne, artists primarily focused on replicating objects as they appeared in nature. However,e Cézanne sought to break free from this tradition. He believed that art should not merely imitate nature but should instead represent the artist’s subjective experience of it. This approach led him to develop a unique style characterized by a focus on form, structure, and color.

The Shift from Impressionism

Cézanne initially participated in the Impressionist movement and exhibited his work in the first and third Impressionist exhibitions. However, he soon grew disillusioned with the movement’s emphasis on color and light at the expense of form and structure. Unlike the Impressionists, who often ignored the shape and contour of objects, Cézanne sought to balance color with a solid, structured composition.

Cézanne’s Philosophy

Cézanne famously said, “Everything in nature forms a similar ball, cone, cylinder stand. People must be based on these simple images to draw, and then people can draw what they want to draw.” This philosophy guided his approach to painting, where he focused on the geometric shapes underlying natural forms.

The Struggle for Artistic Integrity

Cézanne’s quest to describe the world objectively based on his own observations led him to abandon traditional artistic rules. He rejected conventional techniques like perspective and shading, instead using color harmony and contrast to create a sense of depth and volume. This approach was revolutionary but also challenging, leading Cézanne to experience periods of despair and frustration.