Thursday, February 9, 2012


   The advent of the impressionist era in the 19th century created a new perspective of art.  The name, impressionism, was initially a snide criticism of the movement, that it was merely a rough sketch or impression of an actual painting.  Despite the initial criticism the era spread from France to the United States, is recognized as an important period in art history, and there are exhibits devoted solely to this movement, worldwide. 
   Impressionist pieces horrified traditionalists not only due to stylistic concerns, but the subject matter was also deemed offensive.  The artists painted cityscapes, train stations, average people, and as a whole, a far more mundane subject matter than that of previous artists.  The period focused far more on the transient effects of light than on the actual subject matter; the primary goal, being to capture a fleeting moment.  Because the era lacked legitimacy with the Salons of the time impressionism was not by any means a universal movement.  Varying degrees of detail are found throughout the artists associated with this era, from Monet's extremely fluid approach, to Manet's detailed and almost aggressive use of line. 
    The impressionist era stemmed from an array of scientific advancements.  The advances specific to their field were portable tubes of paint, which allowed the artists to paint while observing nature, as well as a larger pallet to choose from.  Other advances at the time were the rail system, changes in Paris' infrastructure, and as a whole, the second industrial revolution. 
   This movement lead to prominent post impressionists, such as Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Seurat.  The change in the methodology of painting also led to the eventual recognition of photography as a legitimate genre of art.  The movement, reacted to traditionalism and provided a concrete alternative to that era.

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