Provencal Artist Paul Cézanne Following His Steps
Like most young artists learning to paint, I was attracted to and inspired by most of the impressionistic and post-impressionistic painters. I loved the work of Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Gauguin and Cézanne and many more. When I arrived in Aix-en-Provence for the first time, I rushed up the hill to see Cézanne’s atelier.
Visiting his private studio was an inspiring experience. The atelier is located up above the city on the Lauves Hill. I walked in the woods behind his studio, understanding completely his need for quiet solitude. This place allowed him to paint in the style he became known for but not highly respected for during his lifetime.
From 1904 until his death in 1906 Cézanne worked every morning in this studio of light and silence. This space was the birthplace of dozens of paintings that are now owned by the worlds’ greatest museums. His studio was preserved until 1997 by a foundation created by two American collectors.
That moment I walked into the Atelier I felt his creative spirit intensely in the room. There among the objects he treasured and used for his paintings, his furniture and painting smocks covered with oil paint, his brushes and painting tools. I felt time stop! Notice the small table in the center, set with fruit and bowls, now look at the fruit painting. It was evident to me that he worked diligently to perfect his unique style.
I was eager to learn more about his life and inspirations and joined a small group for “In The Steps of Cézanne “ walking tour. Hosted by the Office de Tourism. I began the path to learn more about Paul Cézanne on the streets of Aix-en-Provence. Follow the bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks, marking the steps of Cézanne’s life in this old city. Aix was his town a place he was passionately attached too.
Cézanne summed up this love for Provence in one single sentence, “When you’re born there, nothing else is good enough.”
Aix Walking in Cézannes Steps
I learned things I never knew about him as I walked the streets of Aix and I loved this experience so much that I have added it as one of the superior experiences on my Provence From an Artists’ Point of View art tour this fall, and return to this beautiful place as often as possible.
The work of post-impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic inquiry, Cubism. The mastery of design, tone, composition and colour that spans his life’s work is highly characteristic and now recognizable around the world. Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were highly influenced by Cézanne.
Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence on Rue de l’Opéra in 1839 and died in Rue Boulegon in 1906. The particular light of Provence guided him on his creative path to the threshold of abstraction.
I was surprised to learn that Aix owns only eight (8) small original paintings, purchased over the last 25 years. His work was not collected locally for many years. You will find these works at the Granet Museum in Aix, once an art school where he studied from 1857-1862. However, Paris and New York Museums have large collections of works by Paul Cézanne.
He painted directly from the subject and employed the short, loaded brushstrokes which are characteristic of the style as it was forged by Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro. Paul Cézanne’s insistence on the integrity and uniqueness of painting as a medium has additionally meant that the demands of visible reality must ultimately give way when they meet the demands of the pictorial surface. This was a crucial step in the development of abstract art in the 20th century.
Join me on my art tour Provence From an Artists’ Point of View, and we will walk in the ‘Steps of Cézanne’ together.
Here is a short video look at the studio.
Visit Paul Cézanne’s Atelier
Atelier de Cézanne (website)
9, avenue Paul Cézanne
Tel:+33 (0)4 42 21 06 53
Open daily 10h – 12h and 14h – 17h
Until 18h in April-June and September
July and August 10h – 18h
Closed December 25, January 1-3 and May 1st