Episode #7 of the course “Art Movements Throughout European History”
Impressionism is a modern art movement of the late 19th century. In 1874, Claude Monet featured his painting Impression: Sunrise at a salon in Paris. The painting was critiqued for looking “unfinished” and “amateur,” as it abandoned traditional linear perspective and traditional rules of color saturation. The backlash that the painting received from some viewers prompted supporters of his artistic style to begin calling themselves “Impressionists.”
Impression: Sunrise, Claude Monet
The Impressionists used new artistic techniques to give the impression of reality, rather than a realistic portrayal of it in their paintings by using short, choppy brushstrokes and vivid, blended colors. Impressionists also attempted to portray the effects of light by painting “en plein air,” and their use of color blending created a new technique for painting shadows. Painters such as Alfred Sisley and Edouard Manet used these progressive painting techniques and materials and sometimes incorporated Japanese influences, giving Impressionism a greater scope of perspective and style.
The Small Meadows in Spring, Alfred Sisley
Father Lathuille, Edouard Manet
Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Caillebotte often painted suburban scenes, people, and concerns, beginning to bring industrialization into art as a subject.
These scenes started to show people of different classes mingling in public spaces, especially in Paris, thus distributing a new picture of urban life to the world. Paris had been redesigned with tree-lined avenues, parks, and other spaces for public leisure, and the artwork of Impressionists displayed the lives of both high and low social classes interacting in these scenes.
Bal du moulin de la Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Blue Dancers, Edgar Degas
Impressionism continued through Europe and in the United States as an influential style, even when other artistic styles became popular. The last exhibit that is considered “Impressionist” was held in 1886.
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