Cézanne, Paul: Landscapes

Cézanne immortalized the Provençal countryside with his broad, panoramic views. Often these are framed in branches, sometimes with architectural elements, but seldom with human activity. These too are still lifes. Cézanne's landscapes were not painted in the open air, as were those of the Impressionists, nor were they captured first with a camera. He composed the pictures the way he wanted them -- arranging the trees and the houses, probably gleaned from his sketchbooks, on the canvas in the configurations he decided upon.

Cézanne understood that a painting could not really do its subject justice. He knew that colors in nature and their combination with natural light could never be truly reproduced. He saw himself as an interpreter who had to accept the limitations of the medium and tried to transfer the images onto canvas the best way he could. He attempted to bridge the natural and artistic worlds. Hence Cézanne's works, in comparison with the paintings of many other Impressionists, only make sense as a whole, not in snippets, as the brush strokes and colors are meant to be interdependent on one another. This is especially true for pictures painted in the latter part of his career, when he used color in short strokes or in almost mosaic patches, all of equal intensity, throughout an entire painting. In his striving for perfection, this meant retouching the entire picture to recreate the all-important harmony. No wonder he scared his sitters.

He sometimes worked on the same picture for years, never satisfied with the results. He seldom signed his works, because he never considered them finished. Those he did sign had his mark of approval.

During the last decade of his life, Cézanne's paintings became more simplified, the objects in his landscapes reduced to components -- cylinders, cones and spheres. He is often seen as anticipating cubist and abstract art, because he reduced the imperfect forms of nature to these essential shapes. By the time of his death in 1906, Picasso and Braque were in the midst of exploring the most radical implications of his style. Maybe the world has finally caught up with Cézanne. Complexity is more admired now than it was 100 years ago, and since his reputation precedes him, perhaps the exhibition at the Grand Palais will make his work more accessible to the average museum-goer.

Image Etude: Paysage a Auvers (Study: Landscape at Auvers)
c. 1873 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, 46.3 x 55.2 cm (18 1/4 x 21 3/4"); Philadelphia Museum of Art

Image Jas de Buffan, The Pool
c. 1876 (150 Kb); Oil on canvas, 46.1 x 56.3 cm (18 1/8 x 22 1/8 in); The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; No. 3KP 530. Formerly collection Otto Krebs, Holzdorf

Image Maisons au bord d'une route
c. 1881 (130 Kb); "Houses Along a Road"; Oil on canvas, 60 x 73.5 cm (23 5/8 x 28 7/8 in); The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; No. 3KP 502. Formerly collection Otto Krebs, Holzdorf

Image Route tournante à La Roche-Guyon (A Turn in the Road at La Roche-Guyon)
1885 (120 Kb); Oil on canvas, 64.2 x 80 cm (25 3/8 x 31 1/2"); Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Venturi no. 441

Image Gardanne
1885-86 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 65 x 100 cm (25 5/8 x 39 3/8 in); The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

Image Gardanne
1885-86 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, 92 x 74.5 cm (36 1/4 x 29 3/8"); The Brooklyn Museum, NY; Venturi no. 431

More details The Bay from L'Estaque

Image Montagnes en Provence (Mountains in Provence)
1886-90 (140 Kb); Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 79.4 cm (25 x 31 3/8"); National Gallery, London; Venturi no. 491

More details Road at Chantilly

Image Maison et ferme du Jas de Bouffan (House and Farm at Jas de Bouffan)
1889-90 (140 Kb); Oil on canvas, 60.5 x 73.5 cm (23 3/4 x 29"); Narodni Galerie, Prague; Venturi no. 460

Image Maison et arbres
1890-94 (160 Kb); House and Trees; Oil on canvas, 65.2 x 81 cm (25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in); The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

Image Well: Millstone and Cistern Under Trees (Meule et citerne sous bois)
1892 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm (25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in); The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

More details The House with Cracked Walls

More details The Great Pine

Image Le lac d'Annecy (Lake Annecy)
1896 (190 Kb); Oil on Canvas, 64.2 x 79.1 cm (25 1/4 x 31 1/8 in); Venturi 762; Courtauld Institute Galleries, London

Image Foliage
1895-1900 (150 Kb); Watercolor and pencil on paper, 44.8 x 56.8 cm (17 5/8 x 22 3/8 in); The Museum of Modern Art, New York

More details Woods with Millstone

More details Turning Road at Montgeroult

Image Houses on the Hill (River Bank)
1900-06 (100 Kb); Oil on canvas, 60.3 x 79.2 cm (23 3/4 x 31 3/8 in); McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, TX

Image Morning in Provence (Sous-Bois Provençal)
c. 1900-06 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 81 x 63 cm (32 x 24 7/8 in); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Image Bend in Road
1900-06 (160 Kb); Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 64.8 cm (32 x 25 1/2 in); Private Collection; Venturi 790

Image Bend in Forest Road
1902-06 (200 Kb); Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 64.8 cm (32 x 25 1/2 in); Collection Dr. Ruth Bakwin, New York; Venturi 789

Image Bords d'une rivière (Riverbanks)
1904-05 (180 Kb); Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm (25 1/4 x 31 7/8 in); Private collection, Switzerland; Venturi no. 771

Image Le Cabanon de Jourdan
1906 (190 Kb); Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm (25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in); Collection Riccardo Jucker, Milan; Venturi 805

© 19 Sep 2002, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
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