Paul Cézanne Quotes

Paul Cézanne Quotes

Here are some famous Paul Cézanne quotes by the French Post-Impressionist painter.

Who was Paul Cézanne?

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) was a French Post-Impressionist painter whose innovative approach to form and color laid the foundation for the transition from 19th-century art to the radical developments of 20th-century modern art. Cézanne’s work, characterized by its exploration of geometric shapes and the manipulation of perspective, had a profound impact on the development of Cubism, Fauvism, and abstract art.

Early Life and Education

Born on January 19, 1839, in Aix-en-Provence, France, Paul Cézanne came from a wealthy family. Initially studying law at his father’s insistence, he soon abandoned his legal career to pursue art, much to his father’s disapproval. In 1859, he moved to Paris, where he formed friendships with fellow artists like Émile Zola and Camille Pissarro.

Impressionist Influence

Cézanne’s early work was influenced by the Impressionist movement, and he participated in several Impressionist exhibitions. His paintings from this period, such as The House of the Hanged Man and The Murder, showed a mastery of light and color, but Cézanne began to diverge from the purely optical approach of the Impressionists.

Transition to Post-Impressionism

Cézanne’s departure from Impressionism became more apparent as he sought a more structured and methodical approach to painting. He rejected the spontaneity of his Impressionist peers in favor of a deliberate and analytical exploration of form and structure. This marked the beginning of his Post-Impressionist phase, influencing subsequent avant-garde movements.

Mont Sainte-Victoire and Nature

Cézanne’s fascination with nature, particularly the landscapes around Mont Sainte-Victoire in Provence, became a recurring theme in his work. His multiple depictions of this mountain showcased his evolving style and experimentation with perspective, color, and geometric shapes. The mountain became a symbol of his artistic exploration.

Still Life and Apples

Cézanne’s still life paintings, especially those featuring apples, are iconic examples of his emphasis on form and structure. The careful arrangement of objects and the manipulation of geometric shapes revealed his deep concern with the underlying architecture of nature. The series of paintings featuring apples demonstrated his meticulous examination of color relationships and spatial arrangements.

The Card Players Series

One of Cézanne’s significant contributions was his exploration of multiple viewpoints in the Card Players series. Instead of presenting a single, unified perspective, he depicted the card players from different angles in the same composition, challenging traditional notions of space and representation.

Influence on Cubism

Cézanne’s innovative approach to form and his fragmentation of objects into basic geometric shapes greatly influenced the development of Cubism. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque admired Cézanne’s exploration of multiple perspectives, leading them to develop the revolutionary Cubist style in the early 20th century.

Later Recognition

While Cézanne faced criticism during his lifetime, particularly from traditional art circles, he gained increasing recognition in the early 20th century. Ambroise Vollard, an art dealer, played a crucial role in promoting Cézanne’s work, leading to posthumous acclaim and the acknowledgment of his pivotal role in shaping modern art.


Paul Cézanne’s contributions to modern art, particularly his influence on Cubism, laid the groundwork for the radical departures from traditional representation that defined 20th-century art. His emphasis on form, structure, and the geometric reinterpretation of nature had a profound impact on subsequent generations of artists, making him a key figure in the evolution of modern artistic movements. Cézanne’s work is celebrated for its revolutionary approach and its role in reshaping the trajectory of art history.

Paul Cézanne’s Contribution to Art History

Paul Cézanne’s contribution to art history lies in his revolutionary approach to form, perspective, and color, marking a pivotal transition from 19th-century Impressionism to the radical developments of 20th-century modern art. Cézanne’s innovative ideas had a profound impact on various artistic movements, particularly Cubism, and reshaped the trajectory of art history.

Cézanne’s departure from Impressionism was evident in his meticulous exploration of structure and form. Unlike the spontaneous and optical approach of the Impressionists, he sought a more methodical and deliberate examination of the underlying geometry in nature. This shift marked the beginning of Post-Impressionism, emphasizing the artist’s role in constructing form rather than merely capturing visual sensations.

One of Cézanne’s iconic contributions is his exploration of multiple viewpoints, evident in series like the Card Players. Instead of presenting a unified perspective, he depicted subjects from various angles within the same composition, challenging traditional notions of spatial representation. This innovative technique became a cornerstone of Cubism, a movement that would later revolutionize the art world.

While facing criticism during his lifetime, Cézanne’s posthumous recognition soared, and he is now hailed as a key figure in the development of modern art. His contributions to the understanding of form, structure, and spatial representation reshaped artistic conventions and continue to inspire artists exploring new possibilities in the language of visual expression. Cézanne’s legacy endures as a bridge between the traditional and the avant-garde, shaping the course of art history in profound and lasting ways.

Paul Cézanne Quotes

The great French Post-Impressionist painter’s life was very well documented, and as such thankfully there are lots of authenticated Paul Cézanne Quotes.

  • “I must be more sensible and realize that at my age, illusions are hardly permitted and they will always destroy me”
  • “The world doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand the world, that’s why I’ve withdrawn from it”
  • “Keep good company, that is, go to the Louvre”
  • “I ask you to pray for me, for once age has overtaken us, we find consolation only in religion”
  • “Optics, developing in us through study, teach us to see”
  • “Shadow is a color as light is, but less brilliant; light and shadow are only the relation of two tones”
  • “The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself”
  • “I am the primitive of the method I have invented”
  • “The painter must enclose himself within his work, he must respond not with words, but with paintings”
  • “Art is a harmony parallel with nature”
  • “If isolation tempers the strong, it is the stumbling block of the uncertain”
  • “Tell me, do you think I’m going mad? I sometimes wonder you know”
  • “The awareness of our own strength makes us modest”
  • “Painting is damned difficult, you always think you’ve got it, but you haven’t”
  • “We must not be content to memorize the beautiful formulas of our illustrious predecessors. Let us go out and study beautiful nature”
  • “We live in a rainbow of chaos”
  • “An art which isn’t based on feeling isn’t an art at all”
  • “The clear French landscape is as pure as a verse of Racine”
  • “I am a pupil of Pissarro”
  • “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution”
  • “Here, on the river’s verge, I could be busy for months without changing my place, simply leaning a little more to the right or left”
  • “For an Impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations”
  • “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas”
  • “With an apple, I will astonish Paris”
  • “Don’t be an art critic. Paint. There lies salvation”
  • “My age and health will never allow me to realize the dream of art I’ve been pursuing all my life”
  • “When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art
  • “I’ll always be grateful to the public of intelligent amateurs”
  • “A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art”
  • “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensations”
  • “Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience”
  • “The truth is in nature, and I shall prove it”
  • “Is art really the priesthood that demands the pure in heart who belong to it wholly”
  • “There are two things in the painter, the eye and the mind; each of them should aid the other”

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