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Art Movements in Art History - Influence of Cézanne on Cubism

Art Movements > Cubism > Influence of Cézanne on Cubism

Influence of Cézanne on Cubism*

The importance of Cezanne's influence at this stage cannot be overestimated.

The influence Cezanne exerted upon Picasso during 1908 is different from that which
directed Picasso in Les Demoiselles. Important at this time was Cezanne's analysis of form
and space.

In Paris:

- Vollard kept paintings by Cezanne.

- Cezanne's first "one-man show" created an enormous impact. Until then, Cezanne had
been largely overshadowed by Gauguin and Van Gogh. Cezanne at once became the subject
of discussion in the studios. At the 1905 Salon his influence was so marked that it resulted
in a group being referred to as "the school of Cezanne". Cezanne died in 1906, and by
1907 his influence was fading; but it was revived by the exhibition of 79 watercolours at
Bernheim-Jeune and the retrospective exhibition at the Salon d'Automne. In addition,
Cezanne's letters to Emile Bernard, written three years earlier, were published in the
Mercure de France.

- Matisse was one of the first artists to appreciate Cezanne. He owned Cezanne's Three
Bathers.

During the latter part of 1908 Picasso began to study Cezanne more intensively and
seemed to be reconsidering the possibilities of African art. In the Compotier (Fruit Dish) of
the winter of 1908/1909, devices typical of Cezanne were exploited (though exaggerated) in
the high informative viewpoint; the tipping of the table top towards the picture plane; and
the variable viewpoints. The fact that all these are used within one situation results in a kind
of discontinuous shallow space: each separate view implies its own space.

Picasso was introduced to Braque by Apollinaire at the end of 1907, after Picasso had
abandoned Les Demoiselles d'Avignon as incomplete. Certain Cezanne-inspired modifica-
tions had already appeared in Braque's work. Braque's painting Grand Nu, for example,
(1907-1908) shows influences of Cezanne in the flattening of the figure as well as a possible
influence of Picasso. More important, though, are Braque's series of landscapes from
L'Estaque. The forms have been opened up, linking the object to the background and so
suggesting a verified and continuous space.

The breakthrough to new ground is seen during 1908 and is achieved partly through a
thoughtful study of Cezanne. But this breakthrough also meant a move away from Cezanne.
It is interesting to note that the advance occurred in landscape painting, although landscape
was ultimately to play a secondary role in Cubism.

Next: Development of Cubism 1909 >>


* Drawn from notes compiled by R. Becker for the University of South Africa

 




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