Mastery of Design, Color, and Composition: Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne was an avant-garde painter from southern France. He began his career with Impressionism but later abandoned it for personalized techniques that laid the foundation for avant-garde movements like Fauvism and Cubism. Cezanne’s unique methods appealed to the young proponents of these new movements because they deviated from conventions and sparked nouveau interests.

Cezanne’s artistry is characterized by his borderline obsession with form and symmetry. With his constructive brush strokes, Cezanne outlined his images in a fashion reminiscent of architectural design as opposed to the subtle painting style of Impressionism and its fixation on the light. His works reflected his dedicated study of painting subjects and his ability to explore optics.

Because of the unprecedented nature of Cezanne’s artistry, his works remained unpopular for most of his career. His nonconformist style was strange to his contemporaries and the general Parisian public, but he remained committed to his craft. This doggedness eventually made him an icon. This article examines Paul Cezanne’s artistry and the methods that distinguished his career.

Post Impressionist Artist Paul Cezanne Life

Famous painter Cezanne was born on January 19, 1839, in Aix-en-Provence, France. He was the only son of influential parents, with his father being the co-founder of a prominent bank in France. The wealthy couple raised Cezanne and his sisters with privilege, hoping for him to become a respectable lawyer.

Painter Cezanne, who had discovered his passion for art at a young age, had no interest in becoming a lawyer. When he turned 18 in 1857, he enrolled at the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix, where he began his formal art education. However, upon his father’s insistence, he began attending law school at the University of Aix the following year.

Eventually, Cezanne abandoned his father’s dream for his, and in 1861, he left his hometown to pursue an artistic career in Paris. The move estranged father and son, but they eventually settled their differences, with the older Cezanne leaving a chunk of his wealth to his son. The large inheritance helped cushion the artist’s career.

Career of Painter Cezanne

The ambitious amateur arrived in Paris and enrolled at the Académie Suisse to begin his journey to success as an artist. However, after five underwhelming months at the academy, a frustrated Cezanne withdrew to his hometown. He had discovered that his contemporaries at the institution were more proficient than he was, which disappointed him. A year later, Cezanne returned to Paris with a more substantial resolution to stay and build a successful career.

After several failed attempts to exhibit at the Paris Salon, Portrait de M. L. A., his painting of an elderly man reading a newspaper, was finally accepted by the Salon in 1882. However, it was also his last entry into the Salon, and subsequently, he showcased his works at the Salon des Refusés (exhibition of the rejects). After joining the Impressionist circles, he also began exhibiting at Impressionist Exhibitions until he abandoned the movement.

Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro had a formative influence on Cezanne’s art throughout his career. Over a decade of working together, the older artist introduced Cezanne to several impressionist techniques and helped him break away from the dark palette his earliest works are known for. Nonetheless, Cezanne’s art remained heavily criticized in Paris, forcing him back to Aix, where he continued painting in isolation.

Despite his solitary artistry, his works caught the attention of younger and radical artists who appreciated the peculiarities high society had criticized him for. As a result, they regarded him as a revolutionary and often traveled to watch him create some of the best Paul Cezanne drawings. Cezanne’s reputation continued to blossom from here, and the fame carried on posthumously after him.

Painting Style

Cézanne deviated from the traditional art composition, consciously creating images that would not appeal to the common folk. Instead, he sought an audience capable of appreciating his idiosyncrasies and relentlessly devoted himself to them until he found such a crowd in his late period. He did this presumably to avoid placing an expiration date on his art.

By giving his art a timeless quality, he separated it from fleeting fads and ensured the continuity of its appeal through several generations. Moreover, this quality paved the way for future artists who disregard normative trends and paint images that intrigue generations.

Because Cezanne’s career involved multiple transitions, it is hard to label Cezanne’s style as one thing in particular. The artist didn’t have a static method, and his theory remained cryptic throughout his career. To have a solid grasp of his methodology, we must observe his artistry as it evolved throughout his career.

Techniques through the Years

Cezanne’s earliest period is aptly called his Dark Period because of its gloomy nature and dark palette. The paintings from this time generally feature macabre themes. Examples from this period include The Rape and The Murder. He was heavy-handed with his brushstrokes and paint layers during this period.

His working relationship with Camille Pissarro influenced his Impressionist Period. The duo took excursions where Cezanne learned to paint natural scenery in the open air. He also lightened his palette and began using more colors, adding more structure to his works. The texture of his compositions also moved from heavy to smooth.

His constant shifting formed his Post-Impressionist Period from Impressionist norms. It seemed like the more he discovered his craft, the more it took him away from Impressionism. His artistry during this period characterized a structural style that created images by reducing them to primary geometric forms. It also displayed his fixation with perspective and complex optics.


Although Cezanne was often dissatisfied with his works, looking at his career development over the years will inspire appreciation for him and his preferences. His attention to form and constructive composition influenced several other artists and established him as a forefather of multiple art movements and a true master of design and composition.


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