The Father of the Shift to Modern Art

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

Cezanne died over 100 years ago, so it is easy to forget his significance in the evolution of art and human consciousness. He is called the father of modern art, but modern art no longer shocks our “modern” sensibilities as it once did. Paul Cezanne epitomized the prophet on the cutting edge of change which is no easy role. One who challenges the status quo will encounter a powerful resistance and pay a high price if he insists on expressing his vision. He was “a gutsy iconoclast andchanged the way later generations would see the world.”[i] 

In short, Cezanne was on the frontier of a paradigm shift. One definition of Self-realization is seeing the world as it really is. Cezanne did not achieve Self-realization, but he played a key part “as a true revolutionary who overturned the rules of painting and upended conventional theories of color.”[ii]  The paintings that exemplify his unique way of seeing the world include Still Life with Peppermint Bottle” (1895) and The Garden of Les Lauves (1906).

Like many prophets who are pushing for change, he had to live with rejection and an impecunious existence, but he refused to abandon his visionary inner voice. French art historian Jean-Claude Lebensztejn said, “The young Cezanne wanted make people scream. He attacked on all fronts, drawing, color, technique, proportion, subjects … he savagely demolished everything one loves.”[iii]

Those of us who champion a shift to P-A can appreciate these descriptions of how challenging a change in worldview is for humanity. Most will not be able to stand the heat in the kitchen while the prophetic chef prepares the radical dinner to celebrate an awakening humanity. Cezanne remained true to his marvelous “cuisine” to the end. The feast he prepared remains for all of us to savor as we struggle with our own attempts to push back the frontiers of consciousness.

Can we stand the heat in the kitchen?

The Father of the Shift to Modern Art

[i]     Trachtman, Paul. “Cezanne: the Man Who Changed the Landscape of Art.” Smithsonian. January 2006, page 82.

[ii]     Ibid., page 83.

[iii]    Ibid.


Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.

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