Paul Cézanne (b. 1838, Aix-en-Provence, France; d.1906, Aix-en-Provence, France) laid the foundations for the transition from Impressionism to new lines of artistic inquiry in the early 20th century. Together, his simplification of naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials; his use of short, hatched brushstrokes to model individual masses and spaces; and his rendering of slightly different yet simultaneous visual perceptions paved the way for both Cubism, Fauvism and abstract art.


After studying painting in his hometown and Paris, Cézanne first painted pictures with romantic or classical themes, dark colors and expressive brushstrokes. In the early 1870s, influenced by his friend, Impressionist Camille Pissaro who, like him, had settled just outside of Paris, the artist began painting directly from nature and in more brilliant tones. By the mid-1870s, Cézanne was experimenting with subtle tonal variations to create dimension in his objects. From the 1880s, his paintings reflected his permanent return to Provence. Nearly two decades after his last exhibition with the Impressionists, Paris dealer Anbroise Vollard gave Cézanne his first one-man show in 1895, sparking growing public interest and the admiration of a new generation of painters.