19th C Post ImpressionismCezanne (AP Art History and Survey Art History)

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Cezanne, The Father of Cubism 

Paul Cezanne,
Still Life with Peppermint Bottle 1890-1894
Oil on canvas 25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C
Paul Cezanne, The Basket of Apples, 1895
Oil on canvas 65 x 80 cm Art Institute Chicago
Form: According to art critic Robert Hughes;

Cezanne admired the Impressionists, especially Pissarro and Renoir, and derived inspiration from them; it is hardly possible to imagine his landscapes of the 1870s without their quantum of Impressionist freshness. But the whole thrust of his work is about something other than the delight in the fleeting moment, the "effect" of light, color and atmosphere, to which Impressionism was dedicated. Underneath the delectable surface was structure, like reefs and rocks beneath a smiling sea, and that was what Cezanne sought and obsessively analyzed--the bones and masses of the world. His famous remark about seeking in nature "the cylinder, the sphere, the cone" need not be taken literally--he was never a geometric painter, still less an abstract one, though later abstractionists would build on his work. And yet his greatest paintings bear abstract constructions of tremendous amplitude and sureness. Early Cezanne the stumblebum turned into one of the finest manipulators of paint who has ever lived. Perhaps manipulator is the wrong word--it suggests trickery, whereas in Cezanne the relation between the paint surface and the imagined surface of the object (a rock, the side of a house, an apple) is astonishingly direct and candid. This doesn't come across in reproduction. It rises from the paint itself, that discreet paste in which every trace left by the brush seems to help create the impression of solidity, so that you feel you could pick the apple--which is both a rosy sphere of light and a ball as heavy as plutonium--off the table. And yet the surface is never closed, never overdetermined; that is part of the magic. Modernism's patriarch. by Robert Hughes, Time, 6/10/96, Vol. 147 Issue 24, p72, 4p, 7c CEZANNE, Paul -- ExhibitionsART museums -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Iconography: Cezannes' still life works were the beginning of cubism. They are often credited with inspiring Artists like Picasso and Braque to go further with the ideas that Cezanne had already laid out. When one looks at these still life's', one is inclined to say that Cezanne could not draw accurately. The left side of the table does not meet up with the right, the wine bottle is misshapen, and the fruit looks like it is in danger of rolling off the tilted tabletop. But, according to Stokstad, it wasn't that he couldn't draw, it was Cezanne showing 'willful disregard for the rules of traditional scientific perspective.' They say that he is merely observing the still life from many different angles and attempting to incorporate them all into a cohesive whole. As Cezanne would say, " Something other than realty-a construction after nature.'
Context: According to art critic Robert Hughes,

"The greater the artist the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize. "As a painter, I become more lucid in front of Nature," Paul Cezanne wrote to his son in 1906, the last year of his life. "But that realization of my sensations is always very painful. I cannot attain the intensity which unfolds to my senses. I don't have that magnificent richness of coloration which animates nature." As Picasso famously said, it's Cezannes anxiety that is so interesting. But not only the anxiety. There are anxious mediocrity's too. It's the achievement that counts. If Cezanne was not a heroic painter, the word means nothing. This was evident to some of his friends and contemporaries, such as Emile Zola. They saw, as later generations have seen, that his painting was also a moral struggle, in which the search for identity fused with the desire to make the strongest possible images of the Other--Nature--under the continuous inspiration and admonishment of an art tradition that he revered. He compared himself, not quite jokingly, to Moses: "I work doggedly, I glimpse the promised land. Will I be like the great Hebrew leader, or will I be able to enter it? "He was indeed the Moses of late 19th century art, the conflicted, inspired, sometimes enraged patriarch who led painting toward Modernism--a deceptive Canaan sometimes, not always flowing with milk and honey, but radically new territory all the same. The essential point, however, is that just as Moses died before reaching Canaan, so Cezanne never lived to see Modernism take hold--and he might not have liked what he saw, had he lived. It used to be one of the standard tropes of art history that Cezanne "begat" Cubism, and it is a fact that no serious painter since 1890 has been able to work without reckoning with Cezanne. But the idea that Cubism completed what Cezanne began is an illusion. It may be that Cezanne was reaching for a kind of expression in painting that did not exist in his time and still does not in ours. Instead of theory, he had "sensation," the experience of being up against the world--fugitive and yet painfully solid, imperious in its thereness and constantly, unrelentingly new. There was painting before Cezanne and painting after him, and they were not the same. But Cezanne's own painting matters more than its consequences. Inevitably, this deep innovator claimed he invented nothing. "In my opinion one doesn't replace the past, one adds a new link to it."Yes and no. Modernism's patriarch. by Robert Hughes, Time, 6/10/96, Vol. 147 Issue 24, p72, 4p, 7c CEZANNE, Paul -- ExhibitionsART museums -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Cezanne, Paul Mont Sainte-Victoire 1885-1895
Oil on canvas 28 5/8 x 38 1/8 in.
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania
Paul Cezanne, 
Mont Sainte-Victoire 1885-1895
Oil on canvas 25 x 32 in.
Private Collection Pennsylvania

Form: The brushstrokes are more deliberate and planned than those of the Impressionists, he is not merely trying to be painterly, but to record the 'sensations' of nature.Iconography: This was a mountain near Cezannes home in France, and he painted it over thirty times during his life. According to Stokstad, The even lighting and still atmosphere makes these paintings  more enduring when compared to way Impressionists are always trying to capture the 'moment'. Cezanne wanted to capture a sense of timelessness and solidarity with this impressive landscape. On the top painting, the trees in the foreground help to create the illusion of depth and underscore the immensity of the mountains. Even on the bottom painting, which is much looser and more abstracted, we find the mass of trees in front, and a vast expanse of land stretching back toward the imposing hills.
Context: According to art critic Robert Hughes,

Cezanne has often been called a universal artist, but you cannot grasp his work unless you realize that he was a deeply local one as well. He was not just French but southern Mediterranean French, a Provencal; and the obsessive, enduring, reinforcing sense of the particular landscape of his cultural memory is wound into his work so far as to completely remove it from the domain of pure, unsymbolic form. In a sense it is part of the great movement away from the national toward the local that characterized so much of European, including French, culture in the latter half of the 19th century. You feel it particularly in Cezanne's series of landscapes of his "sacred mountain," Mont Sainte-Victoire. Now it is a mere shimmer of profile in a watercolor, whose blank paper becomes the white light of the Midi, burning through the pale flecks of color. Elsewhere, in the late oils, it achieves a tremendous faceted density, that crouched lion of rock. In between there are lyrical tributes to it, as in Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from Bellevue, 1882-85, where it appears almost shyly on the left of a tender, early springtime landscape, all new green, traversed by an aqueduct (sign of the ancient Roman roots of Provence) and crossed by a pale road whose kinks are tied to the branch forms of the pine that rises in the foreground to bisect the canvas. 

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