The Impressionists

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A critique once mockingly called their work ‘Impressions’, since they lacked defined form, and that is where the Impressionists got their name. Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris. In spite of having little artistic influence in his early childhood, an artist developed in him while during classes (that he did not enjoy) he drew caricatures of his teachers, for which he became known and started working at a picture-framing store, where they were displayed along with his other artwork. Eugene Boudin’s work was displayed there too, which differed from the Realists (the then prevailing group of artists who liked painting with sober colors and dark shadows). Boudin believed that no object could be directly painted exactly the way it is due to the fleeting effects of color and light. his works were mocked by the art community and Monet too, but later became a huge influence in Monet’s career. Boudin’s practices of painting outdoors, completing his works then and there and paying close attention to the effects of light were also adopted by Monet. The reaction in the 1880s against Impressionism is known as Post-Impressionism. The Post-Impressionists emphasized on formal structure and order, being more meticulous in their work. However, they shared a similar approach with the Impressionists that color should be an independent bearer of emotion and expression. The element of artificiality is also common in their works. The movement was led by Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. He was born on 29th March, 1859 in Paris. He was a Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman renowned for his innovative use of drawing media and devising the Pointillism technique. Ecole Municipale de Sculpture et Dessin was the place where he studied art and in 1878, to enhance his skills he went to Ecole des Beaux-Arts where Henry Lehmann taught polished his work. He spent the summer of 1890 on the coast at Gravelines, where he painted 4 canvases including the Channel of Gravelines. He died in Paris on March 29, 1981 at the age of 31 due to an uncertain cause. One of Claude Monet’s most famous works is La Gare Saint-Lazare that he painted in 1877. It was a challenging task and required him to be very quick in retaining the sensations of light, steam and motion in his mind, for with the station so crowded and continuous arrival and departure of trains, the scene was never the same. Impressionists liked painting outdoors because they were inspired by the urbanization in Paris triggered by the Industrial Revolution. Monet’s use of short brush strokes and loose brushwork hardly convey forms, but are indicative of spontaneousness and effortlessness. In a way, these techniques of easiness and the use of bright colors(against the Realists’ concept of art) also indicate how the advent of technology brought convenience to people’s lives. On the other hand, Grand Jatte was painted by the Post-Impressionist Georges Seurat when he was 27 and is considered to be one of his most influential works. Seurat, in this work, has captured recreation on the island of Paris, which represented a new type of modernity for the affluent Parisians. It is painted in his famous Pointillist technique, emphasizing purity of colors on canvas. His depiction of people facing either