The tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for more than $250 million. The deal, in a single stroke, sets the highest price ever paid for a work of art and upends the modern art market.
[Cézanne's] paintings were very rarely exhibited and known only to a small circle of artists and collectors until 1895, when he had his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Vollard in Paris; recognition came in his last years.
[Cézanne's] still-lifes, in their simplicity and delicate tonal harmony, are a typical work and thus ideal for an understanding of Cézanne's art. Most of his pictures are still lifes. These were done in the studio, with simple props; a cloth, some apples, a vase or bowl and, later in his career, plaster sculptures. Cézanne's still lifes are both traditional and modern. The fruits and objects are readily identifiable, but they have no aroma, no sensual or tactile appeal and no other function other than as passive decorative objects coexisting in the same flat space. They bear no relation to the colorful vegetables of Provence -- gorgeous red tomatoes, purple aubergines, and bright green courgettes. In his pursuit of the essence of art, Cézanne had to suppress earthly delights.
Provence was Cezanne’s country: he was at home there as nowhere else. His sense of being grounded in so particular and so familiar a place, resonant with memory and emotion, caused him to concentrate much of his extraordinary pictoral intelligence there and to create from that landscape some of the most remarkable and original images in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art. Nature was Cezanne’s inspiration throughout his career, and he sought to be a worthy interpreter of the beauty he saw in the Provençal landscape. It was his goal to convey his visual sensations of color, light, and space in the medium of paint, and he succeeded magnificently, producing works of compelling tactile quality and coloristic beauty.
It would be difficult to overestimate the revolutionary quality of Cezanne's art, which had been compared to that of the proto-Renaissance Florentine painter Giotto as an influence on Western art. Cezanne's innovations ended the six-hundred-year attempt since Giotto's time to reproduce nature in airing. In place of nature Cezanne looked for order; or rather he tried to impose order on nature, without worrying if the results were realistic.
He believed that everything in the world was made up of either a sphere, a cone, a cylinder or a cube. He began many of his works with these basic shapes layering thick paint with strong outlines to build form. This style of painting influenced artists who came after Cézanne such as Braque and Picasso who painted in a style known as Cubism.
Cézanne absorbed many influences, including those of Courbet and Manet, in his early years. In his early works he often imitated Courbet, applying thick layers of paint with a palette knife. He later told Renoir that it took him twenty years to realise that painting was not sculpture. In the 1880s his brushwork became increasingly systematic and ordered. He worked slowly and methodically, selecting subjects he could study for long periods.
In the 1870s [Cezanne] came under the influence of Impressionism, particularly as practised by Camille Pissarro, and he participated in the First (1874) and Third (1877) Impressionist Exhibitions. Though he considered the study of nature essential to painting, he nevertheless opposed many aspects of the Impressionist aesthetic. He epitomized the reaction against it when he declared: ‘I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums.’ Believing colour and form to be inseparable, he tried to emphasize structure and solidity in his work, features he thought neglected by Impressionism. For this reason he was a central figure in Post-impressionism.
Paul Cezanne almost certainly had more of an impact on the direction of twentieth-century art than any otter nineteenth-century painter. […] Cezanne's most important contribution to Modernism was his rejection of the rational role of pairing as the illusionistic process of representing outside reality. For him, the goal of pairing was not to represent; rather, the pairing was first and foremost a material entity unto itself with its own independent reality. Cezanne's concept of the autonomy of paying serves as the basis for much of the abstract art of the twentieth century.
Paul Cézanne belongs to one of the most important painters from the early days of Modernism. His artistic approach to reality is of fundamental importance for later generations of artists. The colors and forms in his pictures consolidate, create objects and become a composition in the artistic reflection, the process of creation.