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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Bathers by Paul Cézanne (Art Institute of Chicago)

Bathers by Paul Cézanne

Bathers by Paul Cézanne

Bathers by Paul Cézanne is a reinterpreting of a historical tradition of painting nude figures in the landscape by famous artists such as Titian and Poussin. Historically artists took inspiration from classical myths, Cézanne, however, was not depicting a mythological story he was more concerned with the harmony of the figures to the landscape. When this painting was exhibited in 1907, it became an inspiration for Picasso, Matisse and other artists who were exploring and developing new art movements. ‘Bathers’ is reminiscent of earlier artists works and comparisons can be made with more modern works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

This painting is part of a series of Bather paintings created by Cézanne towards the end of his life, and with each successive version of the Bathers, Cézanne moved further away from the traditional presentation of paintings, intentionally creating works for an audience interested in new forms of art. He wanted to pave the way for future artists to disregard current trends, and he focused on painting pieces that give a timeless quality to his work. The abstract nude forms are in symmetry to the triangular and rounded patterns of the trees reminiscent of paintings of landscapes and still lifes. Cézanne claimed,

“I want to make of Impressionism an art as solid as that of the museums.”

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) was a Post-Impressionist painter who laid the foundations in the transition from the 19th-century Impressionism to the 20th century’s Cubism. Cézanne’s often repetitive, exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and recognisable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields.

Both Matisse and Picasso have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” Cézanne’s art is characterised by repetitive, exploratory small brushstrokes that build up to form complex colour fields, demonstrating his intense study of his subjects.

Bathers

  • Title:               Bathers
  • Artist:             Paul Cézanne
  • Year:               1900-1905
  • Medium:        Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions   59 × 80 cm (23.2 × 31.4 in)
  • Museum:        Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Cézanne

Reflections

  • What does this painting tell us about how Cézanne viewed art?

Tour of the Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Cézanne Quotes

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“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”

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“Shadow is a colour as light is, but less brilliant; light and shadow are only the relations of two tones.”

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“Painting from nature is not copying the object; it realises one’s sensations.”

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“For an Impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realise sensations.”

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“The world doesn’t understand me, and I don’t understand the world, that’s why I’ve withdrawn from it.”

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“Don’t be an art critic. Paint. There lies salvation.”

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“The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself.”

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“Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.”

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“When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made an object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.”

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“With an apple, I will astonish Paris.”

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“Keep good company – that is, go to the Louvre.”

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“An art which isn’t based on feeling isn’t an art at all.”

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“We live in a rainbow of chaos.”

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“I am old and ill, and I have sworn to die painting.”

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“Art is a harmony parallel with nature.”

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“I must be more sensible and realise that at my age, illusions are hardly permitted and they will always destroy me.”

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“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”

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“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”
– Paul Cézanne

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Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [Public domain]

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