New Trends in the 19th & 20th Centuries




 




Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map


 




Post-Impressionism



 


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Paul Cezanne


 


 


Following the relatively brief flowering of Impressionism, European art-
with Cezanne at the forefront — witnessed the rapid blossoming of diverse
new trends and the formation of new groups of artists, both nationally
and internationally. Among these artists there were some innovative
figures with their own powerful and unique styles.



 

During the 1880s, Impressionism seemed to be running out of ideas. Dissent was growing between the various artists, who were now pursuing their own personal artistic experiments. At the same time, there was an emerging trend that sought to distance art from its previously close relationship with nature and give it a more markedly intellectual character. By historical coincidence, the culmination of a number of significant events in 1886 signalled the final transition to a different artistic climate: the Impressionists staged their eighth and last exhibition; Vincent van Gogh arrived in Paris; Georges Seurat presented a painting that would be the visual manifesto of the new-artistic style of Pointillism; and Le Figaro published the Symbolist manifesto of Jean Moreas. Furthermore, the publication of Emile Zola's L 'Oeuvre, which recorded the critical devaluation of Impressionism, put an end to the author's 30-year-old friendship with Cezanne, who could be recognized in the character of the protagonist Claude Lantier, an unsuccessful painter who fails to realize his dreams through a lack of creative flair. The intellectual stimulation and readiness to explore entirely new formal solutions soon created a complex cultural exchange. Thus, it would be hard to separate trends and label individual artists at a time of such interest in, and sensitivity to, new ideas.
 
 

   


Post-Impressionism

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

in Western painting, movement in France that represented both an extension of Impressionism and a rejection of that style's inherent limitations. The term Post-Impressionism was coined by the English art critic Roger Fry for the workof such late 19th-century painters as Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. All of these painters except van Gogh were French, and most of them began as Impressionists; each of them abandoned the style, however, to form his own highly personal art. Impressionism was based, in its strictest sense, on the objective recording of nature in terms of the fugitive effects of colour and light. The Post-Impressionists rejected this limited aim in favour of more ambitious expression, admitting their debt, however, to the pure, brilliant colours of Impressionism, its freedom from traditional subject matter, and its technique of defining form with short brushstrokes of broken colour. The work of these painters formed a basis for several contemporary trends and for early 20th-century modernism.

After a phase of uneasy dissension among the Impressionists, Paul Cézanne withdrew from the movement in 1878 in order “to make of Impressionism something solid and durable like the art of the museums.” In contrast to the passing show depicted by the Impressionists, his approach imbued landscape and still life with a monumental permanence and coherence. He abandoned the Impressionists' virtuoso depiction of evanescent light effects in his preoccupation with the underlying structures of natural forms and the problem of unifying surface patterns with spatial depth. His art was the major inspiration for Cubism, which was concerned primarily with depicting the structure of objects. In 1884, at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, Georges Seurat revealed an intention similar to Cézanne's with paintings that showed more attention to composition than did those of the Impressionists and that delved into the science of colour. Taking as a point of departure the Impressionist practice of using broken colour to suggest shimmering light, he sought to achieve luminositythrough optical formulas, placing side by side tiny dots of contrasting colours chosen to blend from a distance into a dominant colour. This extremely theoretical technique, called pointillism, was adopted by a number of contemporary painters and formed the basis of the style of painting known as Neo-Impressionism.

The Post-Impressionists often exhibited together, but, unlike the Impressionists, who began as a close-knit, convivial group, they painted mainly alone. Cézanne painted in isolation at Aix-en-Provence in southern France; his solitude was matched by that of Paul Gauguin, who in 1891 took up residence in Tahiti, and of van Gogh, who painted in the countryside at Arles. Both Gauguin and van Gogh rejected the indifferent objectivity of Impressionism in favour of a more personal, spiritual expression. After exhibiting with the Impressionists in 1886, Gauguin renounced “the abominable error of naturalism.” With the young painter Émile Bernard, Gauguin sought a simpler truth and purer aesthetic in art; turning away from the sophisticated, urban art world of Paris,he instead looked for inspiration in rural communities with more traditional values. Copying the pure, flat colour, heavy outline, and decorative quality of medieval stained glass and manuscript illumination, the two artists explored the expressive potential of pure colour and line, Gauguin especially using exotic and sensuous colour harmonies to create poetic images of the Tahitians among whom he would eventually live. Arriving in Paris in 1886, the Dutch painter van Gogh quickly adapted Impressionist techniques and colour to express his acutely felt emotions. He transformed the contrasting short brushstrokes of Impressionism into curving, vibrant lines of colour, exaggerated even beyond Impressionist brilliance, that convey his emotionally charged and ecstatic responses to the natural landscape.

Less closely connected with the Impressionists were Toulouse-Lautrec and Odilon Redon. Concerned with perceptive portraiture and decorative effect, Toulouse-Lautrec used the vivid contrasting colours of Impressionism in flat areas enclosed by a distinct, sinuous outline. Redon's still-life florals were somewhat Impressionistic, but his other works, featuring evocative and often mystical subject matter, are more linear and closer to Symbolism in style. In general, Post-Impressionism led away from a naturalistic approach and toward the two major movements of early 20th-century art that superseded it: Cubism and Fauvism, which sought to evoke emotion through colour and line.
 


 

 

Beyond Impressionism


Cezanne (1839-1906), having distanced himself from the Impressionist movement in 1877, left Paris and returned to Aix-en-Provence. There, he continued to perfect his most important research into "solidifying Impressionism" through the reconstruction of form - this involved analyzing, simplifying, and stripping it of any extraneous visual attributes, and creating a harmonious compositional synthesis that was balanced yet rigorous in colour and dimension. His intention was to remove objects - landscapes and figures - from the transitory state of the visual experience and restore their solidity, thereby infusing them with a new classical spirit. In order to, in his words, "recreate Poussin from nature", he set out to depict his subject matter "through cylinders, spheres, and cones, all placed in perspective". This approach developed into a trend that would later find expression in the work of of the 20th-century Cubists, but already it was inspiring younger artists in Paris and in Brittany who were experimenting with a totally new type of painting that concentrated on the plastic organization of forms. An exhibition of one hundred canvases by Cezanne, held in Ambroise Vollard's gallery in 1895, together with the enthusiasm shown towards him by other artists (for example, the artist Maurice Denis named one of his works Homage to Cezanne), illustrated the profound change in the art scene that took place in the course of just a decade. On show were works by the great master demonstrating his new theories, from the series The Card Players to the many versions of landscapes of Mont Sainte-Victoire and The Large Bathers, in which form was reduced to its most basic elements, carefully studied and tenaciously repeated, and the colours are a sober, harmonious blend of blues, mauves, and greys.

 
 
 


Maurice Denis
Homage to Cezanne
 

 

 The painting shows a group of artists, including Redon , Vuillard, Bonnard,
and
Denis himself, gathered around a still life by Cezanne.


 

 

CEZANNE'S GREAT THEMES

The desire to investigate what lies at the heart of reality and to understand its essence rather than merely its ever-changing manifestations made Cezanne return in an almost obsessive fashion to certain subjects throughout his productive life. Following his stated aim to organize nature according to geometric forms, he repeatedly painted Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain seen from the window of his house in Aix-en-Provence, until he had fully caught its shape and relationship with the surrounding space and the background of sky. In depicting the bay of Marseilles, he even subjected the expanse of open water to the process of structural analysis and solidification.
The other subject that fascinated Cezanne was the human figure. He liked to portray statuesque figures based on geometrical shapes, such as his impassive card players and series of firm-bodied, yet completely unsensual, bathers. He dedicated much time to the latter, spending seven years working on the ambitious painting The Large Bathers, which represents his personal interpretation of classicism. In this architectural composition, with its tight rhythm and triangular compositional format, human and natural forms are given equal dignity and weight by the use of a limited colour range in shades of blue and ochre.
 

 


Paul Cezanne
The Large Bathers
1898-1905
Philadelphia Museum of Art

An arc unites the two groups, linking various planes to the background in
a structure of extraordinary power.


 

 


Paul Cezanne

Six Women Bathing
1875
 

 

   
 

PAUL CEZANNE: "THE BATHERS"

Cezanne worked extensively on the theme of bathers towards the end of his life (1895-1906), producing several versions of this painting. The largest, and perhaps best known, owing to the perfect geometry of its composition, is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The version pictured here is perhaps the most synthetist in the treatment of the figures.

The work can be seen as part of the tradition of groups of people in natural scenery that has many examples in arcadian and pastoral art, from
Giorgione , Raphael, and Giulio Romano, through Claude Lorrain and Poussin, to Manet, and Renoir.

Cezanne had great respect for classical tradition and his aim was to re-create its balance within the new dimension of Impressionist art. In his painting, considerations of composition are essential and permanent, freed from traditional lines of perspective, and there is a assured sense of space.
      


Paul Cezanne
The Bathers
1900
National Gallery, London
 


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Paul Cezanne
 



Paul Cezanne


(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born January 19, 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France
died October 22, 1906, Aix-en-Provence


French painter, one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists, whose works and ideas were influential in the aesthetic development of many 20th-century artists and art movements, especially Cubism. Cézanne's art, misunderstood and discredited by the public during most of his life, grew out of Impressionism and eventually challenged all the conventional values of painting in the 19th century because of his insistence on personal expression and on the integrity of the painting itself, regardless of subject matter.

Early life and work

Cézanne was the son of a well-to-do bourgeois family. He received a classical education at the Collège Bourbon in Aix. In 1858, under the direction of his father—a successful banker determined to have his son enter the same profession—Cézanne entered the law school of the University of Aix-en-Provence. He had no taste for the law, however, having decided at an early age to pursue some kindof artistic career, and after two years he persuaded his father, with the support of his mother's entreaties, to allow him to study painting in Paris.

Cézanne's first stay in Paris lasted only five months. The instability of his personality gave way to severe depression almost immediately when he found that he was not as proficient technically as some of the students at the Académie Suisse, the studio where he began his instruction. He stayed as long as he did only because of the encouragement of the writer Émile Zola, with whom he had formed a close friendship at the Collège Bourbon. Returning to Aix, Cézanne made a new attempt to content himself with working at his father's bank, but after a year he returned to Paris with strengthened resolution to stay. During his formative period, from about 1858 to 1872, Cézanne alternated between living in Paris and visiting Aix.

The early 1860s was a period of great vitality for Parisian literary and artistic activity. The conflict had reached its height between the Realist painters, led by Gustave Courbet,and the official Académie des Beaux-Arts, which rejected from its annual exhibition—and thus from public acceptance—all paintings not in the academic Neoclassical or Romantic styles. In 1863 the emperor Napoleon III decreedthe opening of a Salon des Refusés to counter the growing agitation in artistic circles over painters refused by the Salonof the Académie. The works of the Refusés were almost universally denounced by critics—a reaction that consolidated the revolutionary spirit of these painters. Cézanne, whose tastes had soon shifted away from the academic, became associated with the most advanced members of this group, including Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas. Most of these artists were only in their 20s (as was Cézanne) and were just forming their styles; they were to become, with the exception of Manet, the Impressionist school. Cézanne's friend Zola was passionately devoted to their cause, but Cézanne's friendship with the other artists was at first inhibited by his touchiness and deliberate rudeness, born of extreme shyness and a moodiness that was offended by their convivial ways. Nevertheless, he was inspired by their revolutionary spirit as he sought to synthesize the influences of Courbet, who pioneered the unsentimental treatment of commonplace subjects, and of the Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, whose compositions, emphasizing colour instead of line, greatly impressed Cézanne.

During this period Cézanne began to develop a style that was violent and dark; he painted scenes with harsh extremes of light and shadow and with a looseness and vigour that are remarkable for the time but that can be traced to the influence of Delacroix's swirling compositions. The sensitive dynamism of this youthful period, with the inner feverishness that it reveals, foreshadows the daring innovations of Fauvism and of modern Expressionism, particularly the works of Maurice de Vlaminck and Georges Rouault.


Impressionist years

In July 1870, with the outbreak of the Franco-German War, Cézanne left Paris for Provence, partly to avoid being drafted. He took with him Marie-Hortense Fiquet, a young woman who had become his mistress the previous year and whom he married in 1886. The Cézannes settled at Estaque, a small village on the coast of southern France, not far from Marseille. There he began to paint landscapes, exploring ways to depict nature faithfully and at the same time to express the feelings it inspired in him. He began to approachhis subjects the way his Impressionist friends did; in two landscapes from this time, Snow at Estaque (1870–71) and The Wine Market (1872), the composition is that of his early style, but already more disciplined and more attentive to the atmospheric, rather than dramatic, quality of light.


In January 1872 Marie-Hortense gave birthto a son. Soon afterward, at the invitation of Camille Pissarro, Cézanne took his family to live at Pontoise in the valley of the Oise River. There and at the nearby town of Auvers he began seriously to learnthe techniques and theories of Impressionism from Pissarro, who of his painter friends was the only one patient enough to teach him despite his difficult personality. The two artists painted together intermittently through 1874, taking their canvases all over the countryside and painting out-of-doors, a technique that was still considered radical. From this time on,Cézanne was to devote himself almost exclusively to landscapes, still lifes, and, later, portraits. Pissarro persuaded Cézanne to lighten his colours and showed him the advantages of using the broken bits of colour and short brushstrokes that were the trademark of the Impressionists and that Cézanne came to use regularly, although with a different effect, in his later work. Even while under Pissarro's guidance, however, Cézanne painted pictures clearly indicating that his vision was unique and that his purpose was quite different from that of the Impressionists. Although he used the techniques of these young artists, he did not share their concern with emphasizing the objective vision presented by the light emanating from an object; rather, his explorations emphasized the underlying structure of the objects he painted. Already he was composing with cubic masses and architectonic lines; his strokes, unlike those of the Impressionists, were not strewn with colour, but they complemented each other in a chromatic unity. His most famous painting of this period, The House of the Suicide (1873), illustrates these forces at work.

In 1874 Cézanne returned to Paris and participated in the first official show of the Impressionists. Although the paintings that Cézanne showed there and at the third show in1877 were the most severely criticized of any works exhibited, he continued to work diligently, periodically goingback to soak up the light of Provence. He made sojourns to Estaque in 1876, and in 1878 to Aix-en-Provence, where he had to endure the insults of his tyrannical father, whose financial help he needed to survive since his canvases were still not finding buyers. The single exception to this lack of patronage was the connoisseur Victor Chocquet, whose portrait he painted in 1877. After the second Impressionist show Cézanne broke professionally with Impressionism, although he continued to maintain friendly relations with “the humble and colossal Pissarro,” with Monet, “the mightiest of us all,” and with Renoir, whom he also admired. Dismayed by the public's reaction to his works, however, he isolated himself more and more in both Paris and Aix, and he effectively ended his long friendship with Zola, as much because of neurotic distrust and jealousy as from disappointment at Zola's “popular” writing, which his antisocial and single-minded disposition found incomprehensible.


Development of his mature style

During this period of isolation, from the late 1870s to the early '90s, Cézanne developed his mature style. His landscapes from this period, such as The Sea at L'Estaque (1878–79), are perhaps the first masterpieces of the mature Cézanne. These landscapes contain compositions of grand and calm horizontals in which the even up-and-down strokes create a clean prismatic effect and an implacable blue sea spreads wide across the canvases. Like all his mature landscapes, these paintings have the exciting and radically new quality of simultaneously representing deep space and flat design. Cézanne knew well how to portray solidity and depth; his method was that used by the Impressionists to indicate form. In his own words, “I seek to render perspectiveonly through colour.” The painter's intelligence and eye wereable to strip away that which was diffuse and superimposed in the view of a given mass, in order to analyze its constituent elements. In works such as these, he chose to rediscover a more substantial reality of simple forms behind the glimmering veil of appearances: “Everything in Nature ismodeled after the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder. One must learn to paint from these simple figures.” At the same time, such pictures present shimmering harmonies of colour that can be seen as totally flat designs, without depth. Other striking landscapes from this period are the prismatic landscapes of Gardanne (The Mills of Gardanne, c. 1885) and the series of monumental compositions in which Mont Sainte-Victoire near Aix becomes a mythical presence.

Cézanne was to use essentially the same approach in his portraits. Some of the best known are Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Armchair (1890–94), Woman with Coffee-Pot (1890–94), and The Card Players (1890–92). This last paintingportrays a theme that Cézanne treated in five different versions. Except for the card-player paintings, in which the sober dignity of the men is well expressed, there is no attempt in Cézanne's portraits to hint at the sitter's character. In most cases he treats the background with the same care as the subject and often violently distorts facial colour to bring it in harmony with the total composition. Cézanne also applied his principles of representation to his extraordinary still lifes, of which he painted more than 200. He organized them as though they were architectural drawings, giving the most familiar objects significance and force through the intensity of the colour and the essential simplicity of the form.

Full of the intensity of feeling aroused by his surroundings, Cézanne's art was also deeply cerebral, a conscious search for intellectual solutions to problems of representation. Although he had great admiration for many other painters, he disagreed with the objectives of all but himself; painters who narrated events, as did the Romantics and the Old Masters, and painters who only represented nature—as did the Impressionists—seemed to him to lack a standard of purpose that only his own art possessed. At the same time, he was not a truly abstract painter, for the ideas of structure that he wished to express were about reality, not design. In this, he was the major source of inspiration for the Cubist painters.

After his father's death in 1886, Cézanne became financially independent. He had married Marie-Hortense six months earlier, and, after a year in Paris in 1888, Marie-Hortense and their son moved there permanently. Cézanne himself then settled in Aix except for a few visits to the capital, to Fontainebleau, to Jura in Switzerland, and to the home of Monet in Giverny, where he met the sculptor Auguste Rodin. In 1895 the art dealer Ambroise Vollard set up the first one-man exhibition of Cézanne's work (more than 100 canvases), but, although young artists and some art lovers were beginning to show enthusiasm for his painting, the public remained unreceptive.


Final years

As the 19th century came to a close, Cézanne's art was increasing in depth, in concentrated richness of colour, and in skill of composition. He felt capable of creating a new vision. From 1890 to 1905 he produced masterpieces, one after another: 10 variations of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, 3 versions of the Boy in a Red Waist-Coat, countless still-life images, and the Bathers series, in which he attempted to return to the classic tradition of the nude and explore his concern for its sculptural effect in relation to the landscape. He was obsessed with his work, which was time-consuming since he painted slowly.

Cézanne had always found it difficult to get along with people, and, deeply upset by the death of his mother in 1897,he withdrew gradually from his wife and from the friends of his youth. By the turn of the century his fame had begun to spread, and, since he was rarely seen by anyone, he became something of a legendary figure. He exhibited at the widely attended annual Salon des Indépendants in 1899 and at the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1900, and his works were finally sought after by galleries. The Caillebotte collection opened at the Luxembourg Gallery in Paris with two Cézannes. The National Gallery in Berlin purchased a landscape as early as 1900. Young artists esteemed him; in 1901, the young Symbolist Maurice Denis painted Homage à Cézanne, a picture of artists admiring one of his still lifes.

Cézanne's last period, the fruit of intense meditation in solitude, reached the heights of lyricism, achieving in its revelation of life in nature what only the greatest artists can attain in their lifetime. “The landscape,” he said, “becomes human, becomes a thinking, living being within me. I become one with my picture.…We merge in an iridescent chaos.” In the apparent immobility of the Provençal countryside, he found geologic forces trapped in the rocks, powerful saps coursing through the trees. With a few light brushstrokes, thissick and misanthropic old man, shut up in his studio, was able to breathe life into the last Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings (1898–1902) and the views of Château-Noir. In the last of the great Bathers paintings (1900–05) he succeeded in integrating monumental nudes with a landscape in his structural vision of reality.

The diabetes from which Cézanne had been suffering for a long time became more serious, and in October 1906 he finally succumbed to a harsh chill caught while working in the fields. He died a few days later and was buried in Aix-en-Provence.

Assessment

Although critical sympathy and public acceptance came to Cézanne only in the last decade of his career, his quest to see through appearances to the logic of underlying formal structure always drew admiration among his colleagues. His hope that his paintings would serve as a form of education for other artists was achieved when a number of important painters purchased his work, including Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Kazimir Malevich, Henri Matisse, and Marcel Duchamp. A 1907 retrospective showing of his works (56 paintings) was held at the Salon d'Automne in Paris and won considerable acclaim. That same year Picasso created his seminal Demoiselles d'Avignon (“Women of Avignon”), clearly inspired by Cézanne's groundbreaking Bathers of 1900–05. Indeed, Cézanne's intellectual approach to formal issues—particularly his spatial explorations—laid the foundation for Picasso and other artists' subsequent explorations with Cubism, while his investigations of colour and brushstroke influenced Matisse and other Fauve artists in the first decade of the century.

Over the years the public has also embraced his work, although, as his first biographer, Julius Meier-Graef, observed in 1904, “Except for Van Gogh, no one in modern art has made stronger demands on aesthetic receptivity than Cézanne.” Cézanne is now recognized as the most significant precursor of 20th-century formal abstraction in painting, as he developed a purely pictorial language that balanced analysis with emotion and structure with lyricism. Picasso offered the most succinct assessment of Cézanne's role for subsequent generations of artists, declaring that he was “the father of us all.”

René Huyghe
 


see collection:
Paul Cezanne
 


Paul Cezanne
Nudes in Landscape
1900-1905
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

 

 


Paul Cezanne

Bathers at Rest
1875-1876
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania
 
 


see collection:


Paul Cezanne

 

 

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