Paul Cézanne

Dates1839 - 1906
BornAix-en-Provence, France
DiedAix-en-Provence, France

When Paul Cézanne moved to Paris from Aix-en-Provence in 1862, his art was strongly influenced by Eugène Delacroix and Gustave Courbet. He used thick slabs of paint to give his early works a sculptural presence and intensity. He soon met the Impressionists and exhibited with them three times to scarring reviews, after which he stopped exhibiting for thirteen years. In 1872 Camille Pissarro introduced him to outdoor painting, but capturing momentary effects was not Cézanne's purpose. He ultimately rejected what he considered the Impressionists' lack of structure, declaring his intention to make Impressionism into "something solid and durable, like the art of museums."

After his father's death in 1886, the painter secluded himself at the family home in Aix, supported by an independent income. Still lifes, landscapes, portraits, and bathers became his preferred subjects. His paintings underwent continual adjustment; many required such prolonged reworking that he never considered them finished.

"No one before him ever demonstrated so clearly the extent to which painting is something that takes place among the colors," wrote poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Cézanne modulated warm and cool hues to depict depth and surface and used his "constructive brushstroke," rather than perspective or foreshortening, to build up form and structure. Since 1890, his complex painting has influenced nearly every avant-garde movement in painting, including Cubism and abstract art.