Paul Cezanne : Painting Overlapping Planes Creating Sense of Depth

The Sainte-Victoire mountain seen from the Château Noir grove
Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne, a French artist was born on 19th January 1839. He was among the artists whose identity came from the artworks done under the style of impressionism and cubism. 

Look at this painting The Sainte-Victoire mountain seen from the Château Noir grove. This impressionist landscape painting was sold for $100 Million. It was in the year 2013. If the present price (2019) level is taken into consideration, the price of this painting would amount roughly to $110 Million.  More or less his pool of artworks can be termed as a transition from the art of the nineteenth-century to the twentieth. He had in fact opened the door for new artistic exploration. The artists like Matisse and Picasso followed the suit and kept the torch of new wave burning.

The Art: Cezanne had developed a typical style of painting. He would occupy himself in seeing the landscape and the natural forms of the objects. His imagination would then transfer these images into those shapes which would hold the geometrical essential of the original. But while doing so Cezanne would simplify the forms and make them more chewable by the eyes of the viewers. Thus it is easier to identify the paintings done by him at first sight.

Among other aspects, Cezanne's brush-work attracts our prime attention. The play of free and carefully attended work infuses essential beauty into paintings. On scrutiny of his artworks, we can observe his masterly touches. His paintings are rich with frequently shifting brushstrokes adding lyrical effects to a painting.  

The most famous series of paintings done by Paul Cezanne was titled The Card Players. He painted five canvasses in this series. One of the paintings from the Card Player series was sold at a lucrative price of $300 million.


 

Les Joueurs de cartes, par Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne

 

Les Joueurs de cartes, par Paul Cézanne, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paul Cézanne

 

Paul Cezanne Les joueurs de cartes
Paul Cézanne

Cezanne's Technique: If we look at the paintings of Paul Cezanne, we would see the importance of lining considerably reduced. It seems that the artist had done nothing to mark the lining that would separate one plane on canvas from another. Cezanne always used different shades of colours instead of lining. While creating the required depth in painting, Cezanne would put overlapping objects. This arrangement would create convincing depth if executed by putting one horizontal band over another. Cezanne called his paintings ‘compositions of planes’.  

Such a masterly execution would help to recreate the real beauty of the landscape or other objects painted. If skilfully applied, such a technique would also give less stress to the eyes of viewers. Look at this painting 'Card Player'. We can see how the layers upon layers are arranged to create the four figures in the frame. 

Cezanne believed that if ‘each side of an object is directed towards a central point’, everything would be in proper perspective. An artist knows that all the lining work is done parallel to the horizon would create a feeling of breadth in a painting. While generating a sense of depth in a painting, the use of perpendicular lining would help much. Cezanne had honoured these principles while doing his paintings. But instead of using a lining to demark an object or a plane, he would use a different colour or a different shade of the same colour. 

Paul Cézanne   Kettle and Fruit Oil on canvas
Private Collection Sold at $59,295,000 in 2019
Paintings of Still Life

Look at the painting Kettle and Fruit. It was sold in 2019, at a price of $59,295,000 at Christie's.

Cezanne's paintings were just like a bridge linking two great movements in the history of painting. Cezanne was attached to both the major artistic movements called impressionism and cubism. But was not a surprise that the painters like Matisse and Picasso used to say that “Cezanne is the father of us all”. These painters were influenced by Cezanne's style. 

The paintings are done in the styles of impressionism and Cubism, the colour compositions he applied, the draftsmanship he executed, and the masterly designs he has drawn: these were the artistic aspects, which made Cezanne a resourceful artist. For other artists who followed the cubist style of paintings after him, Cezanne was the source of inspiration. His still-life paintings, one of them shown above, are masterpieces of his time. 

Paul Cézanne  Curtain, Jug and Compotier

Look at another still life painting Curtain, Jug and Compotier. This painting was sold at $60.5 Million. If the price adjusted at the price level of 2019, the price would be $92.9 Million. 

When artists chose to use watercolours, it is not the only reason that these colours are cheaper in price terms.

The real reason to opt for watercolour painting lies in its ease and quickness of its application. You can use the watercolour even if you want to make some random sketches for developing them in the final painting afterwards. Apart from the luxury of having comfort in using the watercolours, these colours allow freedom to apply the transparent effects that are crucial in making a painting artistically valuable. 

When an artist looks upon a scene, immediately a special kind of visual experience is generated in her or his mental sphere. If this experience is caught in colours within a short period of time, it can be recorded with more authenticity and liveliness. Here the artist needs a medium that can be applied with delicacy; watercolours provide the artists with such an opportunity where she or he can use brushes loaded with wet colours and loaded with elegance. Such a facility, such a luxury is hardly available while using oil colours as the oil colours take their own time to dry.

But with these advantages are available in the case of watercolours; it is its specific disadvantages, too. If you commit any mistake, if any flaw has occurred while putting the watercolour on paper, there remain very few chances of rectifying such mistakes. It is nearly impossible to repaint the space that is once coloured by watercolour.

Before inventions of the modern techniques of preservation of the art pieces, the paintings done by watercolours were comparatively perishable, as the watercolours are more vulnerable to the factors like sunlight, dust and dampness in the atmosphere. In some cases, the contact with glass surfaces, too, act as enemies for the painting instead of being a friend. However since the modern technique for preserving the artworks came in to use, the preservation of watercolour paintings has become an easier one. Even the use of modern pigments also has helped to make the watercolour painting long-lasting.

The Norman Clos Huttenville Paul Cézanne
Oil on Canvas    Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria

Cezanne's Landscapes: Look at the landscape painting The Norman Clos Huttenville wherein Cezanne had executed his art of repetitive brush strokes. These brushstrokes have not missed the sensitivity they wanted to inject into the painting. This type of works tells us about Cézanne’s passionate study of the subject he chose to paint. The prime occupation of Paul Cezanne was to see the natural forms of objects and landscapes. Thereafter he would try to simplify these forms into the shapes wearing their geometric essentials. Thus we can see the fertility of Cezanne's imagination in his plantings.

The impressionist painter mainly engaged themselves with painting the changing moods of nature and shifting pattern of light and shadows. But Cezanne concentrated chiefly on capturing the stability of the objects. He struggled to paint the density and solidity of forms. Other painters used the concept of showing light for creating a feel of three-dimensional effect; Cezanne did the same task by putting contrasting colours side by side. In the above painting “Landscape in the Ile de France”, we can see his efforts to depict the solidity of the trees and other objects by using his brushstrokes loaded with contrasting colours. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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