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"There are no lines in nature, only areas of color, one against another."
Édouard Manet
"You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real."
Édouard Manet
"If the painter works directly from nature, he ultimately looks for nothing but momentary effects; he does not try to compose, and soon he gets monotonous."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"If painting is no longer needed, it seems a pity that some of us are born into the world with such a passion for line and color."
Mary Cassatt
"It is all very well to copy what one sees, but it is far better to draw what one now only sees in one's memory. That is a transformation in which imagination collaborates with memory."
Edgar Degas
"Work at the same time on sky, water, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis... Don't be afraid of putting on color... Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression."
Camille Pissarro
When you go out to paint try to forget what object you have before you - a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it emerges as your own naive impression of the scene before you.
Claude Monet
"After 1918, as we know, enlightened public - as well as critical - esteem went decidedly to Cézanne, Renoir and Degas, and to Van Gogh, Gauguin and Seurat. The 'unorthodox' Impressionists - Monet, Pissarro, Sisley - fell under a shadow. It was then that the 'amorphousness' of Impressionism became an accepted idea; and it was forgotten that Cézanne himself had belonged to, and with, Impressionism as he had to nothing else."
Clement Greenberg, from essay "The Later Monet"

KEY ARTISTS

Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
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Claude MonetClaude Monet
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Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
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Pierre-Auguste RenoirPierre-Auguste Renoir
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Camille PissarroCamille Pissarro
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Alfred SisleyAlfred Sisley
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"Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were less or more impressionists. It is mainly a question of instinct."

Claude Monet Signature

Synopsis

Impressionism can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developing in Paris in the 1860s, its influence spread throughout Europe and eventually the United States. Its originators were artists who rejected the official, government-sanctioned exhibitions, or salons, and were consequently shunned by powerful academic art institutions. In turning away from the fine finish and detail to which most artists of their day aspired, the Impressionists aimed to capture the momentary, sensory effect of a scene - the impression objects made on the eye in a fleeting instant. To achieve this effect, many Impressionist artists moved from the studio to the streets and countryside, painting en plein air.

Key Ideas

The Impressionists loosened their brushwork and lightened their palettes to include pure, intense colors. They abandoned traditional linear perspective and avoided the clarity of form that had previously served to distinguish the more important elements of a picture from the lesser ones. For this reason, many critics faulted Impressionist paintings for their unfinished appearance and seemingly amateurish quality.
Picking up on the ideas of Gustave Courbet, the Impressionists aimed to be painters of the real - they aimed to extend the possible subjects for paintings. Getting away from depictions of idealized forms and perfect symmetry, but rather concentrating on the world as they saw it, imperfect in a myriad of ways.
At the time, there were many ideas of what constituted modernity. Part of the Impressionist idea was to capture a split second of life, an ephemeral moment in time on the canvas: the impression.
Scientific thought at the time was beginning to recognize that what the eye perceived and what the brain understood were two different things. The Impressionists sought to capture the former - the optical effects of light - to convey the passage of time, changes in weather, and other shifts in the atmosphere in their canvases. Their art did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions.
Impressionism records the effects of the massive mid-19th-century renovation of Paris led by civic planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann, which included the city's newly constructed railway stations; wide, tree-lined boulevards that replaced the formerly narrow, crowded streets; and large, deluxe apartment buildings. The works that focused on scenes of public leisure - especially scenes of cafés and cabarets - conveyed the new sense of alienation experienced by the inhabitants of the first modern metropolis.

Beginnings

Impressionism Image

Gustave Courbet and The Challenge to Official Art

The Realist movement, championed by Gustave Courbet, first confronted the official Parisian art establishment in the middle of the 19th century. Courbet was an anarchist that thought the art of his time closed its eyes on realities of life. The French were ruled by an oppressive regime and much of the public was in the throes of poverty. Instead of depicting such scenes, the artists of the time concentrated on idealized nudes and glorious depictions of nature. In his protest, Courbet financed an exhibition of his work right opposite the Universal Exposition in Paris of 1855, a bold act that led to the emergence of future artists who would challange the status quo.

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Impressionism Overview Continues

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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