Impressionism is all over the world of art for almost one hundred and fifty years, and it is admired mainly by experts familiar with the public. It is also widely exhibited in the world’s number of museums. Renowned for its painters’ pioneering approach to art, the groundbreaking genre has provided the emergence and shaped the evolution of many art movements, solidifying its function as a catalyst for modern art. While identical impressionism aesthetic is undoubtedly impressive, the idea of the canvases is just captivating. Here, you explore the background, features, and legacy of impressionism to show the iconic movements that impacted the history of art.
What is impressionism?
Impressionism is a type of art movement that arose in 1870s France—refusing the rigid rules of the beaux-arts (‘fine arts’). Impressionist artists demonstrated a new manner of observing and depicting the world in their work, forgoing realistic portrayals for fleeting impressions of their environment that mostly was found outside. Instead of painting inside the studios, the impressionists discovered that they could instead capture the momentary and transient effects of sunlight through working faster, in front of their subjects, in the open air rather than in the studio, “the Tate explains”. This led to a greater awareness of light and color and the shifting pattern of the natural scene. Brushwork began to rapid and broken into additional dabs to offer the fleeting quality of light. This approach to painting moved from traditional techniques, culminating in a movement that changed art history.
History of impressionism.
The whole of the 19th century, many French painters came up with work that adhered to the traditional tastes of the academic des Beaux-Arts, a Paris- based organization conducted annual salons. Advertising a selection of hand-picked artwork, the salons purposed to favor conventional subject’s matter- including historical, mythological, and allegorical scenes offered in a realistic style. Worked up with this age-old approach to creativity, a selection of artist decided to skip the salon hype and instead host their exhibitions called Cooperative des Artistes Peintres, Sculptures, Graveurs (“Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers”); this group of artists which included Claude Monet, Pierre- Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro- held their first exhibition in 1874. Set in Nadar studio, a French photographer, the exhibition features many paintings by thirty artists, with the most notable being Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872). The exhibition saw different reviews from critics, including journalist Louis Leroy.
Characteristics of impressionism.
Since impressionism began, it has been defined with various characteristics. Some of these characteristics include painterly brushwork, distinctive colors, depictions of everyday subject matter, a focus on light and composition inspired by photography.
- Thick brushstrokes.
Painterly brushwork is perhaps impressionism’s most known characteristic. Unlike the well-blended brushstrokes distinctive of different movements, impressionist artists employed thick, sketch-like strokes. These quick marks captured the transient, fleeting nature of moments in time and gave the artist a chance to experiment with color and how various tones get attached to the canvas.
- Distinctive color palace.
Moreover, to brushwork, impressionists as well exhibited a unique approach to color. Apart from mix paint to get some particular tones, they instead classified together individual brushstrokes of different colors. This method is specifically apparent in impressionist depictions of shadows and snow, which, respectively, are never just black and white. Impressionist paintings always feature neutral color schemes with vivid pops of red that draw in the eye and add balance to compositions.
- Focus on the light.
Many impressionist artists like Claude Monet had a penchant for painting on direct air or even outside. With this approach, artists were capable to closely study the light and how it affects the landscape, buildings, and other outdoor sights. Monet said that a landscape could not exist in its own right because its appearance changes every time, but the environment atmosphere brings it back to life, the light, and the air that differs continually. According to Claude Monet, it is the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their real value.
- Creative cropping.
Another avant-garde aspect of impressionism is the everyday nature of its subjects. Typical content portrayed in impressionist paintings includes still-life depictions, landscapes, portraits of friends and family, and modern city scenes- a far cry from the historical, mythological, and allegorical scenes in the Motivated by photography, a new pioneering practice at that moment- impressionists formed paintings that acted as authentic snapshots of particular moments in time. With this idea in mind, artists started to frame their scenes more naturally, leading to asymmetrical compositions cropped like candid photographs. However, these snapshots sometimes needed comprehensive planning and premeditation.
Naturally, as the beginning of modernism, impressionism has influenced so many ensuing movements. Post- impressionists adopted its painterly brushwork; Abstract expressionists found inspiration in Monet’s unconventional approach to forming, and various contemporary artists continued to work in a Neoimpressionist style. These artists invite present-day audiences to see impressionism in a new light by reinterpreting and reimagining the movement’s iconic aesthetics.
In summary, impressionism is perhaps the essential movement in the whole of modern painting. In the 1860s, several young artists decided to paint what they were a thing of and what they were also seeing and felt. They were not interested in painting history, mythology, or the lives of great men, and also, they never seek perfection in visual appearances. However, as their name suggests, the impressionist tried to get down on canvas an “impression” of how a landscape, thing, or an individual appeared before them at a certain point in time. This sometimes meant using lighter and looser brushwork than painters had up to a point and painting out of doors, en Plein air.
The impressionists rejected official exhibitions and painting competitions designed by the French government; instead, they organized their group exhibition that the public was very hostile towards. All these moves predicted the development of modern art and the whole associated philosophy of the avant-garde. In various facets and different participants make the impressionist movement hard to define. Indeed, its life seems as fleeting as the light effects it sought to capture. Impressionism was a movement of enduring consequence, as it embraces modernity.