The painting View of the Sea near L’Estaque showcases all the achievements that earned Cézanne the accolade ‘Father of Modernism’. Geometric forms, isolated brushmarks and short, hatched brushstrokes converge to form a landscape whose elements are differentiated primarily by colour rather than material characterisation. Cézanne dissolved contours almost entirely and eschewed linear as well as aerial perspective. The landscape is seen from a rocky hillside with trees partly blocking the view of the fishing village of L’Estaque just west of Marseille which was popular with artists. The sea can be glimpsed in the distance beneath a narrow strip of pale sky.
Cézanne reduced all objects to their basic forms and was interested in presenting them from multiple viewpoints. He wanted objects to ‘dance’. And, indeed, we seem to see the rock in the foreground from different perspectives, while the leaves show both their shiny upper side and their mat underside, as though the wind were ruffling them. These stylistic devices allowed Cézanne to turn his back on pictorial conventions. He absorbed and reworked Impressionist ways of seeing and painting and anticipated Cubist strategies of representation.