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Paul Cezanne

Birth Year : 1839
Death Year : 1906
Country : France
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Paul Cezanne, the greatest Post-Impressionist master, was born in Aix-en Provence where he received his formal education as a classmate of Emile Zola. Cezanne, whose banker father wished him to study law, did not arrive in Paris until 1861 although he had studied drawing in Aix and showed considerable ability. While studying at the Académie Suisse, Cezanne met Pissarro who was to influence him greatly. When he failed the entrance examinations for the Beaux-Arts, however, he returned to Aix. After working for a year in his father's bank and painting only in his spare time, he returned to Paris (1862-64). Zola introduced him to Manet, Renoir, Bazille and Degas, and Cezanne worked fairly loosely with these artists. Between 1864 and 1890 Cezanne lived in Paris, its environs and in the region around Aix until diabetes forced him to retire permanently to Aix. Early in his career, Cezanne admired Caravaggio, Courbet, and Delacroix, and his paintings until 1868 were romantic or baroque in style, dark in color, and classical in subject. During the period 1868-72 Manet's influence may be noted in added clarity and solidity of form. During his Impressionist period (1872-79) his palette lightened and, following Pissarro's example, he approached nature with greater simplicity.

Throughout the years that he exhibited with the Impressionists Cézanne held the unhappy distinction of being the most derided member of the group. He liked his own work no better than the critics and public did, however, but in 1880 he began to develop his own theory of painting and his own style. It is a style characterized by unemotional, non-narrative, closed compositions that are based on the reduction of every object in nature to the cone, the cylinder, or the cube - those permanent qualities, which he believed were beneath all accidental external variations. He achieved a three-dimensional architectural effect by deliberately alternating warm and cool tones, by using a dark outline around objects and forms, and by an intensely dynamic balancing of shapes. None of Cézanne's works are the result of accident. He painted and repainted, altered brushstrokes attacked his subjects from different angles, and deliberately falsified perspective to achieve a timeless landscape, an orderly intelligence, and a solidity of form.

All modern art can be said to stem, either directly or indirectly, from Cézanne: Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Abstract Expressionism. He immediately affected the work of Gauguin, van Gogh, Picasso, and Braque who, in turn, have influenced countless others. Cézanne finally began to receive some public recognition in 1895 and for the remaining eleven years of his life he enjoyed both public and private attention. He continued to paint until six days before he died of pneumonia on October 22, 1906.

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