The Life and Work of Paul Cezanne
Students can explore the art of Paul Cezanne with these lessons and activities.
By Daniella Garran
French-born Paul Cezanne is credited with being one of the progenitors of modern art. Though initially much of his early work was considered Impressionistic and certainly grew out of this movement, Cezanne, along with Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, developed Cubism, a style which influenced much of the art of the twentieth century. Cezanne is known for his landscapes, still lifes and portraits.
You can have students learn about Cezanne by having students “curate” their own exhibit of his work. Each student should select five of Cezanne’s works and write small didactic labels which could be displayed alongside the images chosen. Students could carry out this assignment independently and create a small gallery guide in which an image and the corresponding information is displayed or the entire class could actually curate an exhibit with full-color replicas of Cezanne’s work accompanied by the didactic labels. Studio art teachers could do this same assignment, but feature Cezanne-inspired student work instead along with artist statements.
As another activity, students could choose one painting by Cezanne which resonates with them. They could write a thorough analysis of the painting, its imagery and symbolism, as well as its historical and cultural significance. Students could also pen a poem inspired by the image which explores the feelings evoked by the painting. Teachers wishing to emphasize creative writing could have students draft a short story about one of the images as well.
Cezanne painted many beautiful landscapes. Consider having students paint a real or imagined landscape in the style of Cezanne. You may also choose to set up a still life or to recreate one of Cezanne’s for the class to draw or paint.
Paul Cezanne Lessons and Activities:
This lesson has students create a Parisian Picnic in the style of Cezanne using construction paper and colored pencils. You may choose to actually have a class picnic to work from (mis-en-scene) to celebrate Cezanne and his work.
Students study the work of Cezanne as culturally valuable in this lesson which explores the exchange of artwork between the Louvre in Paris and two American art museums. Students consider how Cezanne’s work is a reflection of his time and why his style was so influential. They also learn about how museums borrow works of art from one another in an effort to spread cultural understanding.
This lesson gives students an opportunity to use technology to apply their content knowledge to the creation of a brochure. In addition to the work of Cezanne, students also get to learn about the work of Marc Chagall and Paul Gaugin. This lesson could easily be modified to include only works of Cezanne, however.