[Cézanne] is the father of us all.
—Matisse and Picasso
[I]t is true that there is hardly one modern artist of importance to whom Cézanne is not father or grandfather, and that no other influence is comparable with his.
—Clive Bell, Art Critic, 1922
I was somewhat aware of Cézanne and knew that he had some connection with the Impressionists, but I hadn’t realized how much influence he had on later artists. People hated his work in the early days, but by the end of his life he had already become a legendary figure.
Here’s a five-minute cheerful video of Cézanne and his work:
This site had a more detailed biography and shows 739 of his paintings.
The thing that impresses me is that Cézanne rarely liked anything he painted. He destroyed many of his works and left a lot of the rest unfinished. He thought he had failed in what he was trying to do, in spite of his dedication. He died when he was 67 because he got caught in a rainstorm while painting outside. As a consequence he developed pneumonia and died a few days later.
His attitude towards his work was just the opposite of Renoir’s. When Renoir was an art student his teacher said, “Young man, you are very skilled, very gifted, but it looks as if you took up painting just to amuse yourself.” Renoir answered, “Well, yes, if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it.”
How do you feel about what you do? Do you do it because it gives you great pleasure? Are you never satisfied? I can spend hours on tiny details, trying slight modifications and seeing what I like best. Sometimes I like the results, sometimes not. Even if I’m not satisfied and it’s time to move on, I figure at least I’ve learned something. Presumably it will be useful in the future. What about you?