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For the Love of Impressionism

Impressionism is arguably the most beloved and famous of all the artistic styles to date, which is celebrated for its bright colour and new, imaginative view of the world and society. However, originally in Paris in the 1870s, this kind of art was viewed as controversial and undisciplined, it was considered to threaten the values that fine art was meant to uphold. Then in 1874, a group of artists got together to make their own exhibition, mostly of quite small, informal pieces of art that would not have attracted any notice in the Salon (the big annual art exhibition in Paris). They did eight shows altogether, the last one being in 1886. In the first show, the critics picked up on the title of one of Claude Monet's Paintings, Impression Sunrise, and decided to call the whole group 'Impressionists'. The name stuck, and what was supposed to be just a nickname, ended up being the accepted name of the group.
Impressionist artists tried to convey the look and feeling they perceived by the immediate world that surrounded them. Particularly for Monet, this meant painting out of doors, trying to capture the effects of weather, nature and light on the spot, which would be very difficult for a “normal” artist. A very rapid sketch, like Impression
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Sunrise, looks as if it was entirely painted on the spot, but often he must have needed to finish his more elaborated pictures away from the scene, after the lighting effects had changed.
To contrast Monet, Edgar Degas although having this look that gave the feeling the figures were just glanced at. painted his works entirely within his studio, but he arranged his objects and figures to portray this just glanced at look. He often showed figures in such informal poses as stretching or scratching themselves, and frequently used the borders of the pictures to cut off parts of figures, in order to give a sense of immediacy to them.
The Impressionists' technique complemented the anxiousness and speed of their subjects. In their landscapes, they treated their subjects very informally, using a flurry of rapid and varied brush strokes to capture the overall effect of the scenario, without detailed descriptions of the objects within it. More often, too, they expressed lighting effects with bold contras...

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...y to shuttle between the two landscapes for which the Impressionists would gain notoriety in Paris and its suburban enviroments. The emerging fields of optics and photography informed the styles of Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, and Edgar Degas.
We tend to think of the history in terms of a few individual geniuses, acting as teachers for a number of small subsequent groups of artists, but the Impressionists were entirely different. They chose to develop their craft as equals, painting and learning from one another in small groups. One of the legacies of Impressionism is to leave the viewer with a profound sense of life captured on the canvas, through motion, light and colour.
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And also life lived by these remarkable artists, always seeking to experience and to learn, to better capture on the canvas the reality before their eyes.
When you look at the history of Impressionism, it makes you realize how tastes change, and an art that we, today, can easily enjoy and appreciate, could seem crude and controversial and undisciplined to its first viewers. We should remember this in our responses to the art of today.
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