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Google creates still-life artwork to honor Paul Cézanne's birthday

January 19, 2011 |  9:55 am


Born on this day in 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France, Paul Cézanne is most associated today with his vivid still-life paintings of fruit arranged on tabletops. The painter was born into a family that was relatively well to do -- his father was a banker -- and this freed the budding young artist to pursue his creative passions.

Wednesday's Google doodle that celebrates Cézanne's birthday is inspired by the artist's still-life works. Fruit may seem like a tame subject for such a prominent artist, but Cézanne was interested in playing with perspective and depth. Fascinated with geometry, he famously stated that everything in nature could be portrayed with the cylinder, the sphere and the cone.

Cézanne occupies a transitional middleground in 19th century European art. His angular, flat style is said to be a precursor to Cubism in the 20th century. At the same time, he was associated with the Impressionists during parts of his career, though he isn't strictly one of them. In addition to still-life paintings, Cézanne gravitated toward portraits of bathers, as well as landscape painting.

The Google doodle appears to be a visual mash-up of some of Cézanne's best-known still-life paintings, including "Still Life With Compotier," "Apples and Oranges" and "Fruit and Jug on a Table."

Unlike some of his contemporaries, Cézanne enjoyed popular success during his lifetime. He died in 1906, at the age of 67, following a bout with pneumonia. His tomb is in the St. Pierre cemetery in Aix-en-Provence.

Here is one Cézanne that Southern Californians can see in person, "Still Life With Cherries and Peaches," on view at the Ahmanson Building of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



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-- David Ng

Credit: Google, top, and LACMA, bottom.