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IMPRESSIONISM


Impressionism refers to an artistic movement that took place in France from the 1860s to the 1880s. The term “impressionism” was exploited by newspaper critics based on Monet’s 1873 painting, Impression: Sunrise. The term was used in a negative sense; critics implied that the paintings were mere impressions and not finished works of art.

Most of the work comprised by the impressionist artists was created from 1867 to 1886. This group of artists shared similar approaches and techniques. There were individual differences in goals, but all of the artists rejected the notion of traditional art held by the Salon of the French Academy. They were driven portray modern life and to focus on various aspects of their paintings.

The most prominent Impressionist painters were Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille and Armand Guillaumin. In the late 1860s, Manet’s works showed a new aesthetic. He shifted attention to color, tone and texture as the main details of his work. This became the driving force behind Impressionism.

Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir began painting landscapes and river scenes in the late 1860s. They abandoned the traditional approach to landscapes by painting with light, bright colors as opposed to the dull greens, greys, and browns commonly used. They also painted in dabs and dots and used complementary colors for shadowing instead of blacks and greys. The impressionist style was rooted in the practice of painting en plein air, painting rapidly and wielding broad strokes. Light and atmosphere was the primary focus of the works of Monet and Renoir. In contrast, Degas and Cassatt tended to emphasize the primacy of form and line over light and atmosphere.

Independently of the Salon, the group held its first exhibition in 1874. The impressionists managed to hold seven subsequent shows. Their last show was in 1886. During the mid-1880s, the Impressionist group started to go their separate directions. Every artist further pursued his or her own technique and mastery.

The work of the Impressionists and their vision for what they believed art should be opened the doors for Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat as well as artists in the West. The bravery of the Impressionists to go against the norm in painting has given the world not only a new appreciation for a different style of art, but also a template for further change.


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