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Paul Cezanne: Two Apples on a Table

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Art History: Formal Analysis Two Apples on a Table by: Paul Cezanne

Skylar Smith

Taylor Hines

Paul Cezanne's piece titled Two Apples on a Table is a representational oil painting of two apples and a plate. Cezanne belongs to the generation of post-impressionists and is commonly referred to as the 'father of modern art'. The 9-by-13-inch painting was painted some time between 1895 and 1900 and is located at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Cezanne has captured the solidity and volume of the objects in the painting. In this piece Cezanne creates a fully resolved painting through his analytical approach to color and form. Cezanne's Two Apples on a Table is simply a pure painting.

Overall Cezanne's composition is relatively simple; it's comprised of two red-orange-green apples and a white plate sitting on a brown table. Even though the painting is not overly realistic, what's going on in the painting is convincing. Cezanne's objective was not to create an uber realistic still life but a solid still life. The apples and the plate are solid forms more so than individual objects. The apples have become warm-colored spheres and the plate has become a cool-colored oval. The focal point of the painting--not only from the title of the piece--is the two apples. The objects are set up in a row on a horizontal plane, the horizontal plane being the table. An interesting part of this painting is that Cezanne gave us a cropped view of the white plate which throws you off at first but it works because the rest of the plate is well translated. We also only get a portion of the table in which the fruit is resting on. Another interesting aspect of the painting is that the bottom right hand corner appears to be unfinished; apparently this was common for Cezanne to do. There is also a slight overlap of the two apples; the apple on the left is a couple of centimeters in front of the apple on the right. Cezanne uses a mixture of cool and warm colors to describe the objects in the painting. The color intensity is in the middle range and is carefully crafted around subtly. The plate, though its local color is white, picks up a cool blue from the combination of the light source and the background. The plate also picks up on the warm reds and oranges from the apple. The environment surrounding the fruit, plate and table is slightly ambiguous but still serves the purpose of a background and puts the objects in space. The table is in accurate perspective. All of the objects are apart and in relation to one another, the objects seem to know one another. Cezanne has created a sense of balance throughout the piece with his use of warm and cool colors. He has not stressed the different textures of the objects present but has paid close attention to their forms. We see that Cezanne fully understands



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