19 January 1839, Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence.
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“Ideally a painter (and, generally, an artist) should not become conscious of his insights: without taking the detour through his conscious reflection, his progressive steps, mysterious even to himself, should enter so swiftly into the work that he is unable to recognize them in the moment of transition.” (Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters on Cézanne”)
|Paul Cézanne “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire“ (1885 – 1895)|
The prophet has no honour, as the saying goes, in his own country and his childhood friend Zola sang his requiem already during his lifetime, of the genius painter who has the calling but would never cut the mustard to be a genius. Contemporary artists and critics mostly lacked the understanding and reacted with derision on the works of the painting singularity who could never warm to the atmosphere of the artists’ Mecca of Paris and created his masterpieces mostly at home in Aix-en-Provence at the back of beyond. Some, however, recognised the groundbreaking alterity of Cézanne’s work, Pissarro, Monet and Renoir among them, it usually takes one to know one, and when the century turned, his art was discussed and received as a milestone in the development of modern art and his epigones often saw elements that were not consciously intended to be there.
|Paul Cézanne: "Pyramid of Skulls" (c 1901)|
His attempt to refasten the melting colours of Impressionism into a new visual language after periods of Romanticism and Realism, giving up the illusion of distance, the rules of Academic painting went overboard, goes without saying, and attempting to renew classical methods of visualisation based on the Impressionistic colour space and colour modulation, Cézanne’s work is indeed detached from the Post-Impressionism of others. His art is centred on colours and there is no picturesque chiaroscuro in his later works, nor any impressionistic atmosphere. Instead of lights, there is the contrast of colours, chromatically graded and made absolute into a dense fabric and a radically new pictorial arrangement. The visual perception of shapes submits to colours and perspective is reduced to geometric forms, probably the effect that influenced Cubism most – and made Matisse call him a kind of dear lord of painting and Picasso exclaim: “Cézanne is the father of us all!“
|“Cézanne is the father of us all!“ - Paul Cézanne "Les Grandes Baigneuses" (1898 - 1905)|
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