Paul Cezanne was a French painter who represents the bridge from impressionism to cubism.
Cezanne was born in Aix-en-Provence and went to school there. From 1859 to 1861 he studied law, while continuing drawing lessons. Against the objections of his father, he decided to pursue an artistic career and left for Paris with his friend Émile Zola in 1861. Gradually, his father reconciled to his course of life and supported him in it. He later received a large inheritance, on which he could live with ease.
In Paris, he met Camille Pissarro and other impressionists.
Cezanne began with the light, airy painting of the impressionists, but gradually solidified it and made it more architectural. In his words: "I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in the museums." He structurally ordered whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes to create the most telling image of the subject matter. His geometric essentialisation of forms influenced cubism, in particular.
His paintings were in the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusés in 1863, which displayed works not accepted by the jury of the official Paris Salon. The Paris Salon rejected Cézanne's submissions every year from 1864 to 1869.
He exhibited little in his lifetime and worked in increasing artistic isolation, remaining in the South of France far from Paris. He concentrated on a few subjects: still lifes, studies of bathers, and especially the Mont Sainte-Victoire (see image at left), of which he painted innumerable views.
To early 20th-century modernists, Cezanne was the founder of modern painting. Henri Matisse called him, "the father of us all".
Cezanne and Zola disagreed, and never reconciled, over Zola's fictionalized depiction of Cezanne in the novel L'Oeuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886).
In 1906, Cezanne collapsed while painting in the outdoors during a thunderstorm. One week later, on October 22, he died of pneumonia.
On May 10, 1999, Cezanne's painting Rideau, cruchon et compotier sold for $60.5 million, the fourth highest price paid for a painting up to that time.
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