The impressionism movement has proven to be a very important time in history. It influenced the way art is generated and viewed today. The views and techniques utilized during this period have influenced the way individuals currently view the world. Impressionism laid its foundation in the artworld with its innovative ideas and techniques, the desire to rebel against what was recognized as art, as well as with its prominent artists.
ideas/techniques The technique of applying paint directly to the canvas that painters utilize today can be attributed to the impressionism movement. Scientists believed that what the eye was seeing was not necessarily what the brain was understanding. The artists wanted to seize everything in that the actual occasion. Claude Monet once said, “For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value” (THE ARTSTORY MONET). The impressionists wanted to capture the way that the light would reflect on everyday subjects, the creation of shadows, and passage of time. Historically, paint was oil based and needed to be mixed with colored pigment in order to create small batches of paint but would dry quickly. With the new founded ability to package the paint in tubes, artists were now able to take the paint with them because it wouldn’t dry out. They now would be able to take them outside instead of being restricted to the indoor studios. They chose to focus on the imperfect world around them and embraced new possibilities. Instead of mixing colors on the palette, they now applied paint over previous strokes of wet paint directly on the canvas to create the bright vibrant colors that created depth and perception. According to The Art Story website, “Impressionism can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting” (theartstory.org/movement-impressionism). The impressionists abandoned the traditional linear perspective and used a dabbing technique. The image is unclear up close but when the viewer moves away from the image it becomes clear. (theartstory.org/movement-impressionism)
rebel against art Paris was undergoing a major transformation. Not only in the arts but also in the way the people lived. People no longer were focused on the rich and the luxurious, but on leisure and everyday life of the ordinary person. The impressionism movement was influenced by the rebellious nature of a famous Realist painter, Gustave Courbet. Courbet believed that French people were ruled by an oppressive regime and suffered due to poverty. Only rich, well-educated artists were granted permission to place artwork on display at the national exhibition that was sanctioned by Emperor Napoleon III. In protest, Courbet financed an exhibition which was called "Salon of the Refused" that allowed the excluded artists an opportunity to exhibit their artwork. A group of non-classically trained artists who were excluded from participating in the national exhibit, decided to create a showcase of their own. In doing so, it was the spark that created the impressionism movement. A French critic, Louis Leroy, accused the group of painting nothing but impressions. He was quoted to say “XXalong with other critics said that their paintings were amateurish, poor quality, and unfinished. He coined the term impressionism after Monet’s exhibit called “Impression, Sunrise”. They referred to themselves as the "Independents” but eventually embraced the title of “impressionists”. The impressionism movement only lasted twenty years and included other methods such as art nouveau, fauvism and pointillism (.artmovements.co.uk/impressionism.htm).
artists Just as the artwork itself was diverse, so were the artists involved in the movement. Groups of artists would meet each other in cafes across Paris to discuss local events and the arts. The founders of the impressionism movement were a diverse group of painters, writers, critics, and a photographer. The individuals had different personalities, economic circumstances, and political views. The diversity of personalities may be the reason the movement and their efforts were so successful. The primary group included artists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Mary Cassatt. Monet was named the father of the French Impressionism movement because he was responsible for bringing most of the individuals together (.theartstory.org/artist-monet). Monet’s work was mostly oil on canvas paintings that were in the Realism and Impressionism styles. His most important paintings were Parasol-Madame Monet and Her Son and the series called “Water Lilies”. According to the website, The Art Story, “Impressionism and Monet are now considered the basis for all of modern and contemporary art, and are thus quintessential to almost any historical survey” (theartstory.org/artist-monet). Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born to a simple, working class family in France. In his younger years, Renoir used imitation as a means to recreate artwork. He worked as an apprentice to a porcelain painter, took painting lessons from a well-known Swiss painter, and moved to Paris to create his own masterpieces. It was in the forest near Paris that Renoir learned to recreate the real-life snapshot. Two of the most significant paintings created by Renoir were The Dance and The Umbrellas. Renoir’s paintings were described as being full of life and included vivid colors, lights and shadows (http://www.biography.com/people/pierre-auguste-renoir). Mary Cassatt was the only American born impressionist in the group. She came from a upper middle class suburban Pennsylvanian family. As a young woman, Cassatt found that her peers and fellow students would degrade her, the available programs were extremely slow, and soon wanted to move to France to learn directly from famous artists. After she moved to Paris, she again faced discrimination because she was a woman. It was only after her association with the other founders of the movement that she experienced success. Cassatt would work with a variety of mediums throughout her career but was most noted for her work with loose brush strokes and a light colors (artmovements.co.uk/impressionism.htm). Two paintings that she is most famous for were The Child’s Bath and In the Lodge. A terrible fact about Cassatt was that she lost her sight near the end of her life and lived eleven years without the enjoyment of her life’s passion (biography.com/people/mary-cassatt). Without prominent artists such as these, and their desire to create and exhibit a unique perspective of art, the impressionism movement would not have been a success.
Conclusion The creative concepts and methods, the definition of art, and the rebellious attitude of the artists of the period were all necessary to create the Impressionism movement. The art produced today has been influenced by the rebellious founders and their development of the impressionism movement. Even though the first exhibition of the impressionism movement was not as successful as they hoped, it was the starting point for a new way of thinking about and creating art.