Describe the history and art of these movements, using examples of specific artworks. Use proper English grammar, punctuation and spelling. MLA format with parenthetical references and a Works Cited page included.
After reading chapter 31 of Art History, 3rd Ed., Stokstad, Marilyn, please discuss the art movements of Impressionism and Post Impressionism and explore why they were so important in opening the door to modern art in the 20th century. Remember to use specific examples in your discussion. A great museum visit online would be to the Musee d Orsay in Paris.
Impressionism is a form of realism that began in the late 1800s in Paris, France. All art up until this time was primarily concerned with depicting the visual world, recording people, places, and events as they really looked. Sometimes they were idealized or romanticized, of course, but they were still recognizable. With the beginning of photography which we can date to around 1830, the very purpose of art began to change. A photograph can capture visual reality exactly, so what is the purpose of art to be? Well, one thing photography could not do in the 19th century was recreate the world in color. The primary function of Impressionism is to capture the realistic effects of light on objects. When we talk about light, we talk about color. Impressionism was influenced by the color of Delacroix, the technology of train travel which allowed travel into the country, the creation of oil paint in tubes, and the subject matter of such artists as the Barbizon school. These were important because the Impressionists painted outdoors, in the face of nature. They were not interested in creating how things should look, how we think they look, or how we want them to look. They wanted to depict exactly how things look to the human eye in a given moment. So their art seems very fresh and spontaneous. The name, Impressionist, was given to them by a critic who said their paintings looked like impressions of paintings. They preferred to call themselves the Luminists or Independents. They were a radical group of people who were not accepted into the French Salon. Therefore, their works could not be seen or sold. So they set up independent showings in Paris and formed a support group of artists, including Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, and even an American woman, Mary Cassatt.
The French Impressionists were influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige. Japanese aesthetics are based on the traditional principles of simplicity (wabi); asymmetrical balance (sabi); perishability (mujo); and suggestiveness (yugen). These contrast with the traditional Western focus on unity, symmetry, permanence, and perfection. As there was more interaction between the East and the West, the Impressionists began to collect Japanese woodblock prints, and these influenced the development of Impressionism with its sense of the momentary, flattened spatial treatments, and truncated themes that are more ambiguous and suggestive than complete.
After 1885, some artists, like Van Gogh and Gauguin who began as Impressionists, became frustrated with the limitations of Impressionism and began to take the broken brushstrokes, the emotionally detached, flat compositions and change them. For instance:
Cezanne wanted to add volume and solidity to his Impressionistic style to create a kind of Pre-Cubism. For this reason, he is sometimes called the Father of Modern Art.
Van Gogh wanted to probe his own soul. He wanted more emotion. So he added this to Impressionism and created Expressionism, the distortion of form and/or color for emotional impact.
Gauguin wanted to use form and color symbolically, releasing it completely from its representational moorings. So he created Symbolism.
George Seurat took the broken brushstrokes and turned them into little dots of pure hue creating Pointillism.
These artists became known as Post-Impressionists (after Impressionists) and we date this movement from 1885. All of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were greatly influenced by the Japanese woodblock prints to which they had gained increased access as the East opened up more and more to the West. They incorporated these images and their elements into their art.
“Painting from Nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensations.” Paul Cezanne
“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Auguste Rodin
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