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The French painter Paul Cezanne is considered one of the most important influences of Modern and avant-guard art. His intense brushstrokes and vivid colors inspired other future movements, and he has been referred by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso as an artistic father figure. Indeed, Cezanne’s experimental work opened doors for future Modern styles and movements like the deconstructed shapes and geometric planes of the Cubist paintings. Fauvism was also a child of Cezanne’s great impact on how artists viewed their work and the world around them. Although brief, the movement had a significant impact on Modern painting - instead of focusing on the physical aspects of color like the Impressionists, the Fauvists worked with the emotions evoked by pure and vibrant colors, but still maintaining a sense of depth and perspective. Paul Cezanne was able to create a unique style of his own and its influence extended to the XXth century.
Born in southern France, in the city-commune called Aix-en-Provence to a rich family. His father, Louis Auguste Cezanne, hoped he would follow in his footsteps as a banker. It was his creative and artistic mother, Anna Elisabeth Honorine Aubert, that always influenced her son to follow a career in the arts. The French writer Émile Zola was also an important influence on Cezanne’s path towards the art world, working mainly with playwrights, novels, and journalism. They met when the artist was only thirteen years old, and both aimed for success in an alternative market. In 1857, Cezanne began studying in the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix, but eventually gave in to his father’s wishes and began attending law school a year later. The artist studied both law and art until 1861 when he left to live in Paris and dedicate his time exclusively to art.
Although Cezanne’s contribution to Modern art is of the utmost importance, he struggled with depression and self-doubt throughout his life. He faced many obstacles in his career, as many other avant-guard artists that didn’t quite fit the mold did at the time. The jury of the École des Beaux-Arts rejected the artist’s application twice. Still motivated to learn, Cezanne would study on his own by copying the works of art of the masters that were in exhibition in the Louvre, like Michelangelo, and Rubens. Despite his effort, he still did not please the Classical standards of the Academy, failing to show his work at the Paris Salon as he was rejected at each submission. In 1873, a group of rejected artists - including Pissarro, Manet, and Monet - got together and organized their own art show called Salon des Refugé, in which the Impressionist movement officially began, and was harshly criticized. Eventually, Cezanne moved away from the negative comments and worked away from Paris, and developing his unique style of portraying nature. The painter had his first solo art exhibit in Paris in 1885 and it was a great success. Cezanne died after becoming very ill with pneumonia at the age of 67 after he was unexpectedly caught in a storm while painting outdoors.