Art and Design

The shapes of objects

Paul Cézanne is often described as the father of Modern art. He was one of the first artists to be interested in shapes or forms for their own sake instead of the subjects they represented. Most painters of the time painted light and shade as they saw it. Cézanne saw all the objects he painted as three-dimensional shapes and he liked to use his brushstrokes to make them clear. He said, ‘Everything in nature takes its forms from the sphere, the cone and the cylinder.


Look at this painting of a basket of apples and the graphic of a cone, a sphere and a cylinder. The wine bottle has the shape of a cone with a cylinder for the base and a narrower cylinder for the neck. When you eat an apple you know it has a hollow in the top and the bottom but Cézanne has made most of his apples look much more spherical. You can see he was enjoying the other shapes too – the round bowl and basket and the books underneath them, the folds in the cloth and the pile of bread rolls.

Artist: Paul Cézanne - Title: The Basket of Apples - Date: 1887–1900