The Impressionist Movement: Artistic Innovation

Stylistically art began to revolutionize in becoming the Modernist work that we see, much like it is today, during what is known as Impressionism. Although painting still owed tradition to the Realism and Romantic eras, Impressionism encompassed painting in way that had never been seen before. Including vivid colors that allowed a single object to stand out and be glorified, most of the painting during this era depicted nature scenes. The ability to depict nature scenes was brought about partially by technology that had made it possible to adapt the artists’ studio to become portable.

Because of this, the artists were able to depict nature at its best instead of transporting the ideas of nature indoors to paint them. There were many artists that were followers of this painting style during its existence during the 1870s and 1880s. Namely this includes artists that are well known such as, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Mary Cassatt. Pierre-Auguste Renoir displayed his following of the Impressionist movement in his works with the depiction of people doing everyday things, much like could be seen in Realism; however, he depicted them in nature instead of indoors.

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Specifically, this can be seen in his work known as Girl with a Hoop where an everyday girl was seen depicted outdoors with a stick and a hoop. As mentioned by The Collection, “Brushstrokes are tight and firm; they have a smoothness like that of the girl’s skin itself. ” (National Gallery of Art). This was a technique that came about during this era. Colors were separated and brushed differently to create an effect that the color was flowing. Claude Monet had a way of bringing out optical sensory with his works, much like Renoir with the dramatic brushstrokes.

For example, his work Woman with a Parasol, depicts a woman holding an umbrella while standing on a hill. The brushstrokes make it look like the wind is blowing the landscape around the woman as well as her clothing. Monet is perhaps one of the most famous artists of this time. As described by Dr. Mancoff, “…color and movement are the true subjects of this painting” (HowStuffWorks). These characteristics are seen in most of Monet’s art; however, oftentimes it is seen as movement of water. Truly, Monet seems to be a revolutionist for this ovement because of his abilities to depict the dramatic color and movement that make this movement what it is. Mary Cassatt was another of the famous impressionist painters that evolved from the ideas of Realism to the Modern impressionism. Among her works was Lydia Sitting in her Garden with A Dog in her Lap. Here, Cassatt depicts her sister, Lydia, using the impressionist brushstrokes to bring out the beauty and detail of color in the garden she is sitting in. Because of Cassatt’s roots in Realism, she often painted everyday occurrences such as this.

The author of the article titled Mary Cassatt stated,” Cassatt drew her subject matter from her own family and home environment” (Keny Galleries). Post impressionism was brought about by the ambitions of the artists to expand their horizons and the ideas that had been encompassed for several years. Post impressionists had the desire to expand upon the ideals of the Impressionist movement while incorporating their own ideas and not following the new style with the old ideas. This movement lasted from 1886 until 1900 and has influenced modern art heavily.

Among the artists that were the most famous for their post impressionist styles were Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent van Gogh. Georges Seurat painted scenes where the details seems fuzzy, unlike the detailed work that was seen during impressionism where the paintings were made to look more detailed. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is a very accurate demonstration of this technique. The lines in the picture are very defined; however, the picture itself is composed of dots that make the painting appear fuzzy.

The author of the web article Seurat, Georges informs the reader of the distinctiveness of Seurat’s work by stating, “[Seurat’s work was] distinct from the Impressionist aim of suggesting light, atmosphere and movement” (WebMuseum). Paul Cezanne was another artist with a very unique style. Where Seurat used dots to individualize his paintings, Cezanne used jagged, uneven spatters of paint to make a delusional effect to his art. Though it was easy to tell what his art depicted, it appears very sloppy upon closer review, all while creating a uniform, colorful picture.

Tom Gurney, author of Paul Cezanne Prints, a web article discussing his art, mentioned how unique Cezannes work was by writing, “bridging the gap between the supremely popular French impressionist movement and the 20th century creations such as Picasso’s Cubism and more” ([email protected]). Vincent van Gogh, easily one of the most famous artists of all times, was an artist that revolutionized art during the post-impressionism movement. Using another style that had never been seen, he used swirled lines to show stillness as well as movement in his paintings.

This can been seen in a widely famous painting known as The Starry Night. Here, he shows a town with the sky full of stars above it where swirling lines are used throughout the painting. Benjamin Genocchio, writer of the article Van Gogh in Moods, Both Dark and Light expressed his opinion of Starry Night by stating, “life is elsewhere” referring to the author’s mood during this painting (The New York Times). Impressionism was a pull away from the strict ideals that were in place for many years before this time while post impressionism was a stray from all of the previous trends to art and a strive for new things.

Modern art is strongly based upon both of these two artistic movement even though they are both very different from one another. While artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Mary Cassatt lit the way for impressionism with their new take on Realism and Romanticism, artists such as Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent van Gogh revolutionized art based upon their own ideas and marked the beginning of post impressionism.

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