Like Gauguin, Cezanne (1839-1906) began as an Impressionist, or maybe a pseudo-Impressionist. He exhibited in the first and third Independent Exhibitions of Impressionist Painters, but early on the believed that Impressionist Paintings were too airy and superficial. He said, “I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums.” Instead of fleeting, light-as-air impressions, Cezanne chose to make forms look solid; he did this by rendering them with thick slabs of color instead flecks of paint. Also, he wasn’t interesting in chasing motion with quick flicks of this brush, but in painting solid things anchored firmly to the ground.
Cezanne’s solidness was based on geometry. He believed that everything is built on fundamental geometric forms: cylinders, cubes, cones. His goal was to break down objects and people into their underlying geometry (a goal that Picasso would share a few years later).
Cezanne’s favorite model was a mountain called Mont Sainte-Victoire, located near Aix-en-Provence where the artist was born and died. Although Cezanne gave Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-1904) a pale, watercolor appearance, it still has a solid feel. Cezanne painted Mount Sainte-Victoire more than 60 times between 1870 and 1906, the year of this death.