Art inspiration series: Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne - Bathers

Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), Paul Cezanne,a. 1894-1905, Oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London, UK,


Those of you who know me, could easily say that my favourite artist is undoubtedly Paul Cezanne. There are others, who brought revolution to art with their ideas and methods, others who influenced my own practice but there is no one who aesthetically pleases me as much as Paul Cezanne. Therefore, it it is no surprise that I decided to start introducing you to the artists that inspire me with this painter. I will surely refer to him many other times but here is a first glimpse into the life and style of this extraordinary artist.

Born on January 19, 1839 in Aix, France, he was one of the founding fathers of the Impressionism, even though he did not want to be associated with them, preferring to work in isolation, far from the busy life of Paris, exhibitions and criticism. As many “revolutioners'” of the world of art at that time, his paintings were rejected by the Salon with its traditional, classical, notion of art.* Now his works cost over $250000 dollars and are rarely available on the market, but he was widely criticised during lifetime, which made him constantly doubt his own abilities.

His greatest influences were Camile Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh who he met around 1872. Cezanne’s mature works are full of life as it is, volume, surface, colour, and, in my opinion, architectural structure. If you take any part of his painting - you will see that there are three types of colours: dark, light and midtones. His paintings leave unforgettable impression on any person who spends time in front of them. I remember when I first saw Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) (c.1894-1905) in the National Gallery in London - those immersive blues, combined with beige tones and the harmony of human bodies conquered my heart forever. Every time I come back to London, I cannot help but spend at least 20 minutes in front of that masterpiece. Luckily, you can do it as many times as you wish, the entrance to the Gallery is free.

Paul Cezanne produced around 900 oil paintings and 400 watercolours - his early works are undoubtedly different from the style he developed later in his career. However, they all are equally significant in the development of the art movements of the 20th century. Only a man of a very big talent could break the rules of the conventional pictorial representation and inspire Picasso, Matisse and many others to continue breaking rules and boundaries and further challenge people’s perception of art.

Who is your favourite artist?


*The Salon (Salon de Paris) - an official art exhibition of Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1748-1890). It was the greatest and one of the most anticipated events in the art world of that time. Every inch of the walls of the exhibition was usually filled with artworks. It was a huge honour and accomplishment to be exhibited there. The critique that was published in the newspapers about works that were represented there started an occupation of an art critic.

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