Cezanne's Obsession (04:27)
French painter Paul Cezanne was renowned for his still lifes, portraits of bathers, and paintings of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, a subject he revisited more than 65 times. He was interviewed by author Joachim Gasquet in 1896, shedding light on his 30-year infatuation with a single image.
Early Life and Work (07:19)
Cezanne was born in 1839. He created his earliest works at his family’s mansion, the Baptiste de Jas Bouffan. His wife, son, and landscapes became his central subjects. His father, a banker, subsidized his career. His early work was dark, emotional and tragic.
Cezanne and Zola (01:24)
Cezanne had a lifelong friendship with writer Emile Zola. They would take long country walks together as kids, and they wrote to each other about life and art for 30 years. Zola’s novel, “The Masterpiece,” features a character that was inspired by Cezanne.
Simple Forms (04:28)
Cezanne’s observation was mathematical. He suggested that everything in nature was modeled on the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder. He was a seminal figure in modern art. Pablo Picasso referred to him as “the father of us all.”
Evolving Style (02:37)
From the 1880s, Cezanne’s paintings were built out of increasingly subtle contrasts of color and tone. After a walking tour with fellow painter Camille Pissarro, he started to experiment with tentative, patched brushstrokes. He lacked confidence, and Zola claimed he destroyed as many as 15 canvases a day.
Cezanne's Routine (02:38)
Cezanne kept a rigid routine. He would rise as early as 5 a.m. and attend mass. He would work on a still life before venturing outside to paint for the rest of the day. He painted with what he called “the 19 color that make up my life.”
Mountainous Obsession (12:54)
In 1881, Cezanne wrote to Zola to inform him of his intent to focus on Montagne Sainte-Victoire for an extended time. He never worked from imagination, though he often greatly exaggerated the size of the mountain he had gazed upon his entire life.
Paying Homage to Cezanne (07:57)
Artists work on Cezanne-inspired projects. Photographer Thomas Joshua Cooper uses a 19th-century camera to capture nature. Poet Liz Lochhead imagines the painter’s obsession in verse. Patrick Hughes paints “an ideal exhibition of Cezanne’s … that couldn’t be held anywhere” on wood.
Cezanne's Death (04:10)
Cezanne kept painting until the end. He sold less than 50 paintings in his lifetime, out of 807 that have been catalogued. His “Still Life with Apples” sold for 18 million pounds. Lochhead and Hughes unveil their finished products.
Credits: A Day on the Mountain (00:41)
Credits: A Day on the Mountain
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