In Light, Colour and Design class at Pratt Institute, NYC, we have recently been introduced to the French Post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne (19 January 1839 – 22 October 1906) who was one of the major inspirations of Picasso. Following the opinion of our professor Kye Carbone’s Cézanne was also one of the most important painters in newer art history.
Cézanne considered himself up there with the old masters of the renaissance. When you look at his paintings it is immediately obvious his style is extremely different from that of the renaissance painters. What is interesting about Cézanne though is that his notion of perspective is completely skewed, most of his paintings are tipping over because he is capable of something not many are, painting exactly what our field of vision presents to us: The human eye does not see things in a perfect perspective, perspective is but an efficient lie for us to describe the world through, and a very believable one at that. However it isn’t so much Cézanne’s observation of perspective that is important to us in the LCD class, it is his use of colour.
Our teacher has tasked us to paint a Cézanne of a Cézanne. We are to break open the shapes and work with the mark and colour, and preferably push the colours further. It is important to note that in his landscape paintings Cézanne creates depth of field by the use of colours. Cool colours recede and warm colours step forward.
I chose to work with his painting of a ‘boy in Red Vest’. My first attempt at painting a Cézanne of this painting didn’t exactly go according to plan. I ended up sticking far too tightly to the actual painting, however I do feel like I learned something in the process. My teacher asked me to give it another go though and break the painting open. After my second attempt I am still not content and I intend to do a 3rd study where I use a much larger brush. Eventually these studies of Cezanne will lead us into cubism and hopefully in the process we, as class, will learn to appreciate and understand the thinking process of Picasso and other painters.