Katarzyna Nowik

If one glances through the pages of Cézanne and Beyond or any book on modern or contemporary painting and sculpture, there is one thing that stands out about the history of these works of art, and that is that no other artist besides Cézanne has had a greater influence on art after the early 1900’s. His influence can be seen in the art of Picasso, Mondrian, Beckmann, Braque, Giacometti, Léger, Gorky, Giorgio Morandi, Liubov Popova, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Jeff Wall, Brice Marden, Sherrie Levine, Francis Alÿs, (Smee, 2008, 1) and especially Matisse, whom after working so closely with Cézanne as his apprentice was especially vulnerable to his influence (Bois, 2009, 103). Cézanne’s influence continues to live on even in today’s art world. He broke ground for what makes a good painting and his work defied the “rules” in a way that it provided a liberating nature for artists that followed. This essay aims to identify how this powerful influence affected the artist Matisse in both his early work that carries over to his more novel, independent works.

What particularly made Cézanne’s work so inspiring to his contemporaries is that it consists of so many novel qualities. His work demonstrates a mastery of design, color, tone, and composition, but he is especially known for the steep spaces, simple shapes, and mysterious and sometimes tense moods that are found in his work (“Cézanne’s World of Influence”, 2012). This gave Cézanne’s followers a lot to work with and thus Cézanne had a lot of artist fans. Picasso had once said of Cézanne, “He was my one and only master!”(Elderfield, 209) It cannot be ignored that the presence of Cézanne bridged the gap between impressionism and cubism, and thus inspired some of the most important paintings in modern art including Picasso’s.


Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4.
Henri Matisse, Still Life with Oranges II, 1889, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, Saint Louis