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The Artistic Style of Paul Cezanne and his Contribution to Cubism

Mar 11, 2023 | 0 comments

Mar 11, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Born in January 1839, the French artist Paul Cezanne has made a significant contribution to the transformation of art to how it is today (Cezzane). He joined the Saint Joseph school and later the college of Bourbon in Aix. It was until 1857when he began attending drawing classes in the Free Municipal School of drawing in Aix. His father, Auguste Cezanne, was the founder of a banking firm which guaranteed financial security in his education process. However, his father was pessimistic about his choice of career in art. He sponsored his enrollment in Law school from 1858 until 1861. He demonstrated his passion for art and departed his home for Paris on completion of his Law study. His father was embarrassed by his son’s decision but he eventually reconciled with him and provided more financial support to succeed his artistic ambitions. In this paper, I will explore Paul Cezanne’sartistic styles which took a different path from the previous and existing artists. I will also discuss the contributions he made to cubism, which has influenced the modern world today.

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The landscape style

Paul Cezanne demonstrated his ambition for art over his years. He attracted the attention of the fathers of art who were intrigued by his style of art. He met the Impressionist Camille Pissarro in Paris, who guided him in his mastery of artwork. Cezanne desired to deviate from the obvious painting techniques and resort to a style of his own. He began by painting the landscape. Unlike other artists, he chose colours as a representation of the natural landscape. In his initial drawings, he captured a wide area of natural landscape and designed colours to represent various objects. He developed an interest in working his art from direct observation rather than through imagination. He maintained his desire to produce art made from direct observation and improved his choice of artistic representation of the natural phenomena.

Relationship with impressionists

He lived around impressionists but was hardly interested in developing art using their techniques. First of all, when it came to impressionism, he preferred working in the studio, unlike landscape art. He rejected orderly and organized art created from spontaneous brushwork. His main focus was symbolism and substance, unlike the impressionists who targeted style. Paul wanted to transform impressionism from art of style to his type of art with solid backgrounds bound to last long in museums. He foresaw the evolution of art in the future centuries. Cezanne was a one-of-a-kind artist of his time who barely faced much opposition but distinctive support from the masters of art. Some of the styles he used that defined his paintings are his constructive brushwork, bright colour and skewed perspective.

Constructive brushwork

He adopted the broken brushwork technique from the impressionists. This was after he exhausted his devotion to palette knives which produced highly textured images. He used a constructive style of brushwork in which he developed distinctive objects from multiple marks made on his painting field. As seen in the painting, The Bathers (1906), each mark was in unison with each next in the creation of geometric forms which represented recognizable images. Unlike other artists, he did not use dark lines to outline his objects. Instead, his contrasting brushwork showed the outlines of the objects in his paintings, especially where points of contact were delicate.

Bright colour

Besides his constructive brushwork, he adopted the use of bright colour in his paintings. Most of his paintings were characterized by their bright colour. He discovered that the natural sunlight could not be reproduced in paintings, so, he chose to use bright colours to represent the sunlight effect on the environment. He also reduced the physical environment captured in his landscape paintings to mere blocks of colours. According to him, his representation was more substantive and promised the development of art. His paintings had high contrast images which when solitarily picked out as a section of any of his drawing, would not bring out its meaning. The bright colour technique workedconjointly with the style of brushwork. One would only make sense out of his paintings only if they observed it as a whole and not by detaching the multiple marks which represented various features.

Skewed perspective

In the paint, “The basket of apples” Cezanne brings out a technique which was never used before by other artists. Instead of embracing the realistic portrayal of space, he focuses on creating almost similar paintings made from the same observation but from different angles of view. In addition to his constructive brushes, he emphasizes in the visibility of the different objects in the scene. In the painting, he flattens the surface to bring out his creative image of the basket, apples, bottle, and the background where the table is placed. It was until 1957 when Georges Braque noted that the technique would play a major role in cubism. The piece of art marked Cezanne’s gateway into cubism.

The rise of cubism

Cubism was a traditional form of modern art developed by Picasso Pablo and Georges Braque in the 20th century. The artists noted that the world was changing rapidly and artists had to respond to guarantee their identities and legacies in the modern world. They challenged the existing forms of art which had been their guide since the Italian Renaissance. They sought to discover new and effective ways of representing art as depicted in the modern age. The modern age was characterized by rapid technological advances including the development of photography and cinematography which threatened the identity of the artists (Olive-Tomas et al. 1910). Therefore, the cubists collaborated to establish newer and modern ways to express art in modern societies. Cubism defined the new ways they discovered, ways that would change how they saw and presented the world in the form of art.

His contribution to cubism

Paul Cezanne ignored the traditional ways of art perspective which demanded artists to draw objects of three dimensions in two-dimensional techniques. He found the idea rather compromising and emphasized on creating art in three dimensions as they were visualized by the human eye. This explained why he chose to use flat surfaces in his paintings; to create more space to fill with objects that would bring out the three-dimensional view. His aim was to point out the difference between reality and paintings (Artfactory). He tended to face reality, unlike other artists who focused on creating images that would be rendered questionable on whether they were realistic or not. With the discovery of photography, Cezanne’s ideas on Cubism perspective were embraced by all cubists who incorporated his style in their artwork after the birth of cubism.


Despite the fact that Cezanne’s artwork differed largely from the Cubists’ works, they all agreed that his art was remarkable and stood to be the threshold for future cubist art. It is important to note that the title “Cubism” emerged from Cezanne’s work. He frequently painted a village in France, L’Estaque using the line and colour art style. Georges Braque, later on, attempted to draw a painting born from Cezanne’s picture of the village (Smith & Terry 84).

Cezanne’s geometry

The cubists also identified Cezanne’s style of geometry in his art production. They noted that in all his paintings, he used geometric figures to represent natural phenomena. This was one of the major characteristics of art in the cubism era. Cezanne escaped the struggle to present nature in art using rather complex forms that would bring to question the attachment of the paintings to the real world. Simply put, he unravelled the secrets to aligning the traditional methods of developing art with the method implications of the modern era. In his paintings, he created a large volume observable to the human eye in the real world, all in one picture (The Westologist). His compression was marked outstanding and remained a significant influence on the cubist founders. The cubists also demonstrated their recognition of his perspective design in art.

Cezanne foresees the evolution of art

After the rise of cubism, Cezanne secured a new title in the art industry, “The father of modern art.” Since he developed an interest in art, his ideologies on how art should be portrayed in paintings reformed the whole industry. This was made possible by the acceptance of his work by the former father of art, Picasso. Cezanne developed his art in due creativity nurtured by his ambitious nature. He always wanted to develop art that had not been made before. His innovative mind led him to visualize the world in a completely new way. In his landscape creation, Cezanne tells that art made at the studio is nothing compared to the art made in the real environment. His understanding of the transformation of art from the visual analysis to a painting saved important aspects of art. He noted that several objects may be lost if all artists chose to produce their work in studios. A closer comparison with art today, especially in photography reveals that drawings made from studios barely have a sense of preserving the components of the natural environment. Photography would capture everything in the field of view. Besides, they meet the three dimension requirement as per the Cubists’ stipulations.

His death

Years passed as Cezanne made significant progress in the creation of his art albums until the day when he went to the field, during stormy weather, to work on a painting. After hours of working, on exposure to the harsh environmental conditions, he set to suspend his work until the next day. Unluckily, he passed out on his way home. He was rescued by a driver who happened to be passing by. His housekeeper provided him with ample treatment which restored his health; little did they know the recovery was short-lived. The next day, he woke up healthy and set to resume his work but fainted before his resumption. His colleague called for professional medical aid who demanded that he be laid to bed until he fully recovered. It was not until a few days later when he was pronounced dead from Pneumonia. He was buried in his hometown in the Saint-Pierre Cemetery.


Despite his demise in 1906, he remained a legend in the field of art. He was not only identified as the father of modern art but was recognized as the father of cubism. It was intriguing that his work was accepted and faced minor criticism from the existing art structures. His mastery in art not only influenced the upcoming artists but also those who guided him to his level of expertise. His reformative techniques in art backboned the industry until other artists emerged and improved his work. All the same, Paul Cezanne remains to be an important figure in the field of art until today. His paintings remain valuable assets in the museums today. To other artists, he taught determination and perseverance to ensure that the world inclines to hear the voice of artists. He also nurtured the potentiality of re-development of art as technology advances. He inspired a modern and artistic view of the world and its visual components when he advocated for the development of three-dimensionalarts. Fighting his battles alone, Cezanne demonstrated that his ideas were worth the attention of other artists. His desire for art led to a temporal stalemate between him and his father who later gave up trying to lead him to a different interest in the course of pursuing his studies.

Works cited

Artfactory. Cubism. 2018. Accessed at http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/art_movements/cubism.htm

Cézanne, Paul. Conversations with Cézanne. Univ of California Press, 2001.

Olive-Tomas, Antoni, and Susan S. Harmeling. “The rise of art movements: an effectual process model of Picasso’s and Braque’s give-and-take during the creation of Cubism (1908 1914).” Small Business Economics (2019): 1-24.

Richman. K. Why Post-Impressionist Painter Paul Cézanne Is Known as the “Father of Modern Art”13.2 (1-6) May 11, 2018. Accessed at https://mymodernmet.com/paul-cezanne-paintings/

Smith, Terry. “Cézanne: Figuring Truth in Painting.” boundary 2 43.4 (2016): 71-125.

The westologist. Cultural insight. “How Cezanne influenced Cubism”. 2018. Accessed at http://www.thewestologist.com/arts/how-cezanne-influenced-cubism

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