Paul Cezanne, Pines and Rocks, 1896-99 Oil on Canvas Museum of Modern Art This simple painting of a small, intimate landscape is a good example of Paul Cezanne’s mastery of the impressionist style. The scene is of a rocky path, possibly a hiking trail on the side of a mountain, and a few trees that veil the sky in patches of leaves. Cezanne’s method of painting is rather interesting, in that he paints each stroke like a plate of color, creating an overlapping mosaic. The palette he chose is also remarkable with bright, almost cartoonish shades of pigment that give an underlying sense of realism to the painting. Looking at Cezanne’s work often makes one wonder if impressionism is a study of light being cast on objects or of life being cast out from the object.
The overall “feel” of a painting is often determined by the way each brushstroke is applied to the canvas. Cezanne’s work resembles a mosaic piece, except his blocks of color are intermixed and overlap eachother. Each brushstroke rests on its own plane in the painted space, giving the painting a sense of depth unique to the three-dimensional information of the trees off in the distance and the boulders on the ground. The thick, dark outline of the trees and rocks also add depth to the piece, separating the shaded trail from the bright midday sky. Using a little imagination, one can almost pick off individual leaves from the green and brown patches of paint used to represent them.
Cezanne’s choice of color is exceptional in expressing the particular mood in a scene, as shown in this painting. A rich blend of purples, reds, and browns in the rocks and tree trunks nicely compliments the bright blue sky and green foliage. The dull, muted tones of the rocks give weight and gravity to the scene while the light and dark greens seem to dance in the winds of the sky blue background. Lighting and shadows are also well done to add the final touch of depth to the piece.