Impressionism and Post Impressionism
In 19th-century France the confirmation of an artist's success was acceptance at the annual Salon, a state-sponsored exhibition of paintings. The accepted paintings tended to be conservative if not downright dull. Salon paintings of the period typically contained a knight in armor, a group of cardinals, some tropical vegetation, or a medieval feast with every dish shown in meticulous detail.
In 1863 the Salon rejected four thousand paintings, which caused such an uproar among the rejected painters and their supporters that they formed their own exhibition—“Salon des Refuse’s.” Among the painters in the “refused” show was Edouard Manet. Manet broke all the rules. He took a fresh look at how light strikes a subject, concentrating on brilliant highlights and deep shadow, all but eliminating the middle transitional tones.
During the years following Manet’s sensation at the Salon des Refuse’s, young French artists increasingly sought alternatives to the Salon. One group looked to Manet as their philosophical leader. The group formed in 1874 and staged private showings until 1886. Because of the diversity of their works, the group had a hard time identifying their style. Then a critic, after seeing a paining by Claude Monet (a member of the group) entitled Impression: Sunrise, dubbed the artists “impressionists.” The group adopted the name; their work was known thereafter as Impressionism.
the standards of the past, the impressionists preferred to paint outdoors,
choosing landscapes and street scenes, as well as figures from everyday
life. Their primary object was to achieve a spontaneous, undetailed rendering
of the world through careful representation of the effect of natural light
on objects. The foremost impressionists included Edgar Degas, Claude Monet,
Pierre Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh.
Degas lived in New Orleans, the birth place of his mother, for five
months during 1872 and 1873.
PORTRAITS IN AN OFFICE: THE
NEW ORLEANS COTTON EXCHANGE (1873)
Oscar Monet was a French impressionist painter who brought the study of
the transient effects of natural light to its most refined expression.
Working outside, Monet painted simple landscapes and scenes
of contemporary middle-class society, and he began to have some success
at official exhibitions. As his style developed, however, Monet violated
one traditional artistic convention after another in the interest of direct
artistic expression. His experiments in rendering outdoor sunlight with
a direct, sketch like application of bright color became more and more
daring, and he seemed to cut himself off from
the possibility of a successful career as a conventional painter supported
by the art establishment. In 1874
Monet and his colleagues decided to appeal directly to the public by organizing
their own exhibition. They called themselves independents, but the press
soon derisively labeled them impressionists
because their work seemed sketchy and unfinished (like a first impression)
and because one of Monet's paintings had borne the title Impression: Sunrise (1872,
Musée Marmottan, Paris).
IMPRESSION: SUNRISE (1872)
only merit I have is to have painted directly from nature with the aim
of conveying my impression in front of the most fugitive effects.
impressionist painter, noted for his radiant, intimate paintings, particularly
of the female nude. Recognized by critics as one of the greatest and most
independent painters of his period, Renoir is noted for the harmony of
his lines, the brilliance of his color, and the intimate charm of his wide
variety of subjects. Unlike other impressionists he was as much interested
in painting the single human figure or family group portraits as he was
in landscapes; unlike them, too, he did not subordinate composition and
plasticity of form to attempts at rendering the effect of light. "Renoir,
Pierre Auguste," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997
painter, who with fellow artist Paul Signac originated the influential
theory and practice of neoimpressionism. Seurat was born in Paris and trained
at the École des Beaux-Arts. He rejected the soft, irregular brushstrokes
of impressionism in favor of pointillism, a technique he developed whereby
solid forms are constructed by applying small, close-packed dots of unmixed
color to a white background. Many artists imitated Seurat's method, but,
except in the work of Signac, his technique remained unequaled in its perfect
blending of colors. He departed from impressionist style, however, in his
precise application of paint and in the suggestion of depth and volume
in his scenes. His masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La
Grande Jatte (1884-1886, Art Institute of Chicago), achieves an atmosphere
of monumental dignity through the balanced arrangement of its elements
and the contours of its figures. "Seurat, Georges," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R)
98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.
postimpressionist painter, whose work represents the archetype of expressionism,
the idea of emotional spontaneity in painting. an Gogh was born March 30,
1853, in Groot-Zundert, son of a Dutch Protestant pastor. Early in life
he displayed a moody, restless temperament that was to thwart his every
pursuit. By the age of 27 he had been in turn a salesman in an art gallery,
a French tutor, a theological student, and an evangelist among the miners
at Wasmes in Belgium. In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother
Théo van Gogh, an art dealer, and became familiar with the new art
movements developing at the time. Influenced by the work of the impressionists
and by the work of such Japanese printmakers as Hiroshige and Hokusai,
van Gogh began to experiment with current techniques. Subsequently, he
adopted the brilliant hues found in the paintings of the French artists
Camille Pissarro and Georges Seurat. In 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern
France, where, under the burning sun of Provence, he painted scenes of
the fields, cypress trees, peasants, and rustic life characteristic of
the region. During this period, living at Arles, he began to use the swirling
brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues associated with such
typical works as Bedroom at Arles (1888, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh),
and Starry Night (1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York City). For van Gogh
all visible phenomena, whether he painted or drew them, seemed to be endowed
with a physical and spiritual vitality. "Gogh, Vincent Willem van," Microsoft(R)
Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.
WHEAT FIELD WITH CROWS
every ounce of blood with me when I paint
Vincent van Gogh
--Content prepared by David Deroche.
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