Paul Cezanne

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Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) was a revolutionary painter of the late 19th century. His work could not be contained within one movement of modern art. Cezanne painted during the height of the Impressionists movement, though he did not hit the pinnacle of his career until he became one of the founders of the Post-Impressionist movement. His style of painting has inspired generations of artists to this day. His 1895-1900, Post-Impressionist, still life, Table, Napkin, and Fruit, (Un coin de Table) oil painting comes from his collection of still-lifes. The Barnes Foundation, in Merion, Pennsylvania, houses this remarkable painting. Cezanne encapsulates the simplicity of a bowl of peaches and pears on a table and turns it into a major work of the Post-Impressionist period.

When it was created, Cezanne was progressing into a more mature style. He had complete control over the composition and the subject in his still lives, unlike his earlier works of landscapes and portraits. Within the composition of his still lifes, the forms of the fruit seem somewhat haphazard and abstract, though Cezanne is assiduous in their placement within the canvas. These modifications of the fruit are illustrated in Un coin de Table where he breaks down each form into their basic geometric shape. The three most prominent shapes he used in this painting were the sphere, the cone, and the rectangle.

When viewing this painting, it could be understood that the onlooker might first focus on the realistic right, lower corner of the canvas. The fruit and the corner of the table are clearly defined. In contrast to the non-descript somewhat blurry left corner of the canvas where the shapes and fruit are not easily recognizable. The added heaviness to the right corn...

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... also an emotional intensity. Within this painting, one can see the movement of his work beginning with Impressionism to Post-Impressionism, and finally with the use of his vivid pigments he impelled the birth of Fauvism.

Cezanne developed a style unlike any other. From the way he used color, to the strokes of his paintbrush, and finally to the setup of each individual object within the canvas, he created exceptional works of art setting him apart from all the rest. As a result he became one of the most influential painters of the 19th century. His influence helped in the creation of a color palette for the Fauves, including Henri Matisse, and ultimately paving the way as an enormous inspiration for Pablo Picasso. The mastering of his Post-impressionistic palette is a sought after achievement of many contemporary painters both novice and professional.
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