Paul Cezanne was a French artist whose art formed a bridge between the Impressionist movement and 20th century art. Cezanne showed his paintings in the Impressionists' first exhibit in Paris. Although he was acquainted with some of the Impressionist painters such as Monet, Cezanne moved to his home in the south of France and painted in his own way.
Much of his art was not appreciated by people until near the end of his life. Cezanne was later recognized for his influences on modern art, particularly Cubism.
Our artwork of the week is Cezanne’s Still Life With Curtain.
Balance is a principle of design that is based on the visual weight of objects. Artworks are more appealing when their parts balance each other, and unbalanced paintings tend to bother us.
In a symmetrically balanced artwork, both sides seem balanced because they are similar or even identical.
Symmetrically balanced art appears orderly or formal.
Architecture often uses symmetrical designs.
YouTube video - Introduction to Symmetry (2:35 min.)
The opposite of symmetrical balance is asymmetrical balance. Pictures with asymmetrical balance have different sides. The elements are arranged so that there is a sense of balance. Many of Cezanne’s paintings have asymmetrical balance.
Visual weight is an important element of asymmetric balance. Many things can affect visual weight of an object such as size. Larger items look heavier.
Quantity - Several small items can balance one larger item
Color - Bright colors are visually heavier than lighter, dull colors
Cezanne used color and size to create asymmetrically balanced paintings.
Rose window of Chartres Cathedral
Balance is a principle of design. Another type of balance in art is radial balance. Radial balance happens when all the elements in an artwork are equally arranged from the center. The parts of the painting radiate out from a central point.
Many items in nature have radial balance, such as a daisy or a grapefruit.
YouTube video - Balance in art (3:08 min.)
Crystallographic balance is an overall pattern that is balanced due to repeating elements being alike or of equal weight. This print by Escher uses crystallographic balance.
Andy Warhol's soup cans
Andy Warhol's soup cans use crystallographic balance.
Quilts have crystallographic balance.
Cezanne intended to capture a moment in time in his paintings and he would do intense studies of his subjects.
He was interested in simplifying natural things to their geometric forms, such as thinking of a tree trunk as a cylinder or an orange as a sphere. Cezanne used repetitive small brushstrokes to build up his paintings. He would sometimes take hours to put down a single stroke of paint, because he put so much thought into it. A still life might have taken Cezanne one hundred working sessions.
This technique became such a problem that Cézanne was unable to use real flowers, because they would wilt before he was able to finish his painting. Cezanne painted more than 200 still lifes.
He also painted landscapes and portraits and completed over 900 oil paintings in addition to watercolors.
Cezanne used balance and all of the principles of design to achieve the ultimate principle of design, which is unity. Unity is a principle that is difficult to explain, but means that all of the elements of an artwork work together successfully.
Cezanne’s work influenced both Matisse and Picasso. Picasso referred to Cézanne as "the father of us all", meaning Cezanne paved the way for modern artists.
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