Paul Cézanne – The Father of Modern Art

Paul Cézanne was born on January 19th 1839 in Southern France: He became the post impressionist artist known as the father of modern art. His father was prosperous, being a founder of the banking firm Cézanne and Chabanel: Therefore, unlike many his contemporaries Cézanne enjoyed financial security throughout his life.

When he was ten years old Cézanne studied drawing at the Saint Joseph Roman Catholic school in his home of Aix-en-Provence. His tutor was a Spanish Monk named Joseph Gibert. At thirteen years he went to the Collage Mignet that was known then as Collage Bourbon. During his six years of study he became great friends with Emile Zola and Baptistin Baille: The trio who became known as, les trois inseparables" - The Three Inseparables.

From 1859 to 1861, during his final two years at the school, Cézanne studied law at his fathers request while continuing to attend drawing classes as a day scholar. Despite his father's protests Cézanne went to Paris: Beckoned by Zola who was already staying in the French Capital. Ultimately father and son did reconcile and Cézanne's finances were secured with a four hundred thousand inheritance from him later on.

Of course, it was in Paris that Cézanne would pave the way for nineteenth century art to make its metamorphic, revolutionary transition into the twentieth century: Although throughout his artistic life Cézanne paintings remained virtually unknown. Cézanne did not trust the word of critics and as such rarely exhibited his oil paintings until 1895: When Ambroise Vollard, a Parisian art dealer gave Cézanne his first solo exhibition. Until then Cézanne had only exhibited his art work twice.

Cézanne's heavy use of black and dark colors in his oil paintings from 1861 to 1870 was a stark contrast to his earlier drawings and watercolours at the Collage Mignet in Aix-en-Provence: Which is why this has become known as Cézanne's Dark Period. These paintings were frequently violent with regards to subject - The Murder created around 1867 depicts a woman who is being stabbed by a man and held down by a female co-conspirator. The Rape was also produced around the same time and is an equally disturbing vision. Around this time, inspired by Courbet, he also produced a series of portraits using a palette knife: Which he dubbed une couillarde - A derogatory French phrase that implies pretentious and grandiose flamboyancy.

The oil paintings of Cézanne's Dark Period, along with those of the Impressionists were considered far too radical by the Paris Salon and so consistently rejected. While the style of Cézanne's oil paintings were certainly influenced by the Impressionist style (hence they were exhibited in the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874 and again in the third exhibition of 1877), the artist was far too depressive and anti-social to create friendships with them.

Paul Cézanne struck a maestro and pupil friendship with Camille Pissarro toward the end of the 1860's and as a consequence his oil paintings began to on a much lighter note. The two would spend a decade painting the now famous landscapes of Pontoise (where Pissarro lived) and Louveciennes. And while the older artist certainly had great influence upon his young disciple over time their relationship became more collaborative than informative.

Cézanne's Impressionist period ran from around 1870 until 1878: From there his interests turned to reducing the world to its most basic forms. This is a somewhat Platonist idea, that the world is created by a handful of the most simple forms. With Cézanne this would be the cylinder, the sphere and the cone. In addition, Cézanne simultaneously began exploring the world from a new angle: Investigating the relationships between objects from two perspectives at the same time.

Paul Cézanne went through several artistic phases in hi life. Early works include many imagined landscapes with gatherings of figures. He moved on to direct observations throughout his Impressionist phase during which his style came out of the darkness and into the light: Quite literally. While these canvas art works are well known, it is the mature oil paintings of Paul Cézanne that people recognise the most: And which are recognised as a Cézanne . His mature canvas art works highlighted the artist's deep need to incorporate direct observation and Classicism. His paintings are structurally ordered architectural compositions of solid simple forms: The cylinder, the sphere and the cone and often subtle color planes. Paul Cézanne once stated: "I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in the museums": And indeed, he most certainly did.