Dance in the City - Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 
Oil on Canvas Musee d'Orsay, Paris

If we are to define art-movement, we can do so in simple words. The movement of art is a trend of working followed by a group of artists. 

This group would follow a common or specific philosophy. They may have a specific goal, too. An art movement remains current for a specific period: it may be in years of in decades. 

After the classical era, the renaissance took the hold of the arts. Thereafter came the neoclassical and realism art movement. The European artists getting support from the working class audience kept experimenting on newer forms of art in every segment of the arts. But the period the eighteenth and nineteenth century saw a herd of art movements. And it has not ended with the modern style of art. Here we will talk about some of the art movement in nineteenth-century of Europe. 

In the impressionist painting, the artist concentrates on the general impression created by the scene. The term impressionism was an unknown word in the art world until the early nineteenth century. The works by great artists like Constable and Turner were branded as ‘unrefined daubing’. The academicians were not happy with such a theme as impressionist paintings. From the day Claude Monet names one of the famous paintings as ‘Impression Sunrise’, the movement is known by that name, the impressionist painting. Joining the artist like Edouard Manet helped the movement to take a great leap forward. The work done by Renoir and Degas gave the movement much fame and a new perspective, too.

Renoir was considered the leader among the Impressionists. He earned that title for his portrayal of luminous colour, dexterously mixed brushstrokes. He formed warm sensuality by nuances of light and shadow that his brushstrokes put on the canvasses. Renoir was a master in the impressionist style who celebrated beauty from whatever elements he might come across. His paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, focusing on people in candid composition, and fusing the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of colour. 

Impressionism:   Under the style of impressionist, the artist concentrates on the general impression that is produced by the scene or the object he or she paints. In most cases, the painting is completed in one sitting. The impressionists' style uses unmixed and mainly primary colours. By using smaller strokes of their brushes, these artists try causing the actual effect of the light and shadow.

The free movement of the painter’s arm with a brush in his hand and eyes on the object made this style more popular and satisfying for all. In this style of paintings, there is more margin for the artist’s point of view and angel of perception to be rendered through a more human and more energetic approach. It is really a treat to catch the changing light and varying ambience virtually in no time.

While painting a piece of art, the artists care for various themes and their intellectual meanings, too. But the impressionist artists care more for the ‘visual significance’ and keep that as their main motive. They feel happy and satisfied if they can reproduce the on-the-spot effects of the transient effects of sunlight on the landscape.

THE ARTIST:   Paintings by Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919) give us a feeling of his favourite subject: depiction of the moment of time, here and now. Being the best-loved impressionist, he painted beautiful scenes, pretty children, the flowers, above all lovely women. His brush had the skill of depicting the faces he liked, describing the candid facial features. He painted youthful spirits and charm of the persons he took as models.

As a master impressionist, Renoir always transformed what he saw, what really was before his eyes. Though the artist's imagination is not ruled over here. With his artistic skill, he had injected beauty into nature by creating harmony through vivid colours. Look at the natural things like a green leave in the background and the artificial thing, a hat, in the foreground. Nothing defeats the harmony of the whole painting. The translucent blue skilfully used in the painting help us see nature with a fresh look.

Painting Analysed: This painting, Two Sisters (On the Terrace), Oil on Canvas size 100x 80 cmis masterly painted so far as the technicality of the paintings is concerned. In addition to the youthful depiction of the two young ladies, the real beauty lies in the youthful scenery of nature, the green leave and the landscape seen in the background. The beauty of the season of spring and the promise of youth are the subjects of celebration for a painter. 

THE ART: Under the style of the impressionist, the artist considers the impression created by the general impression of the natural surrounding. And these artists generally completed their painting in one sitting. Impressionist painters mostly use unmixed and primary colours. By using smaller strokes of their brushes, the impressionist style artists try causing the actual effect of the light and shadow.

Surrealism: Painting With Unusual Juxtaposition of Objects:   Paris had suffered much during the First World War. The artists and writers, who gathered together again after the war, worked with a new philosophy.

What is Fauvism:   The field of art could not remain untouched by this reformative blow of the air, as people wanted from the artists, too, to deliver something touching the common people and their expectations. Realism was a natural outcome.

Surrealist artists experimented in unexpected and unusual juxtaposition. Freeform the convention, the artist like Joan Miro and Salvador Dali used the power of their imagination to lead the viewers to a new world of artistic experience. They would let their imagination to play. This movement has affected literature and visual art in their different aspects. The spheres of film and music also were not untouched by the fever of the surrealistic approach. These artists gave priority to the unconscious mind to play its role. The psychological development by Freud in the sphere of interpretation of dreams had let the surrealist artists reveal the aspects which were unknown to the eyes of the viewers of visual art.

Salvador Dali and Surrealism:   Salvador Dali, a Spanish artist, is known as the main artists forming the group known as the surrealists. Fascinated by the works of renaissance artists, Dali had experimented with cubism art, too. He was expelled from the academy for his remarks, before his final examination. He had said that no one in the academy is capable to examine his work. Dali had used the concept of surrealism to its maximum. He had painted canvases which we can name as the representations of dreams. His masterly touch with the adequate amount of imagination had made the movement of surrealism so famous among the contemporary artists. His canvases are sold at very high value in the present time.

In the same period, many artists in Italy had infused some concept of metaphysics into their artworks. They have painted cities and roads with strange looking objects. Such strange juxtaposition of the objects was a display of the unconscious mind: thus they described their art. Georgio De Chirico was the main Italian artist who painted under the style of surrealism. He had founded the concept of Metaphysical Art.

The surreal artists would prefer familiar objects to paint. But an urge to explore the inner life of these objects would get more attention. They would construct an imaginary scene of eh inner life of any object, from a wristwatch to the head of a person, and thereafter would inject the thoughts into the objects. This aspect made the surreal art full of mystery and equally attractive, too. This could be said as the metaphysical side of the thinking of the artists, too. It would give free play to the imagination of the artists.

Fauvism: Painting Expressive Language of Colours:   It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else, said Henry Matisse. This was correct in respect of every artist who paints with original hues of colours. He looked trying to check the power and reach of painting as a form of art.

Sometimes we can feel the aggressiveness of the artist while looking at his or her painting. It is a specific style of painting. The style, initiated in the first decade of the twentieth century, is named ‘Fauvism’. Fauve is a wild beast. Fauvism is a name of the strong expressive response of the artists. When these artists paint, they do it like the impressionists; but their reactions towards the subjects they painted look stronger.

Henry Matisse and Fauvism:   The master painter Henry Matisse had three major qualities in his life: the unmatched talent, ill-health, and disapproval of family for whatever he did. However, he was lucky to have a supporting wife: Amelie. She kept his artistic journey unaffected by the family disturbances. Though he continued experimenting with the styles of other painters like Gauguin and Van Gogh, in a subtler way, he rejected the manner in which the impressionist painters depicted three-dimensional characters of the objects painted. 

Though we can see that he uploaded the colours in a little bit robust manner, his paintings are finely balanced and creating a well-managed chiaroscuro. His lines were honestly directed and went to the length of defining the form he chose to paint. Matisse would try finding a space that would allow him to make the colours moving with freedom. He would make these movements of the different colours to define the outline of objects painted on his canvases. 

Painting Analysed:: In the painting Woman With a Hat, Matisse had used the wildness of the colours to its peak level. We can see the strong brushstrokes splashing the red, blue and green in this painting. This painting got mixed responses from the critics. After seeing this painting, one of the columnists had described it as “A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public". 

In Henry Matisse’s life, a decisive turn had come when he met one master artist, John Peer Russell who was an artist having a wealthy studio. Being an impressionist artist and a good friend of Van Gogh and Monet, Russell introduced Matisse to the beauties of the style of impressionist painters. Matisse was greatly impressed by the work of master impressionists. After this event, Matisse’s style of painting had fundamentally changed. 

The artists like Paul Gauguin and Andre Derain had also painted some of the canvases, which were under the style of fauvism. These were the artists who were working in the period known as post-impressionism. 

These artists, along with other Fauvism and post-impressionism painters, had exploited the potentials of pure colours to their peak level. The fauvism artists would not select subjects with complexity; they prefer simple forms to reveal the abstract nature of the subject. They would put colours narrating the subjects with a language in loud voice. Their colours would not speak but they would shout their presence on canvases. Their brushes were wild making the colours so outspoken. Fauvism is a style of painting that can be termed as one of the modes of expressionism, too. 

REALISM: Artists Painting Objective Reality:   During the first-quarter of the nineteenth-century France was undergoing hectic changes in every sector. The successful revolution had initiated social demand for the reforms on one hand, and on another, the democracy had injected newer and fresher desires in the veins of the people. 

The term realism is referred to in diverse meanings in the history of art. But in general terms, it refers to the period and movement of the art of painting during which the artists wanted to paint objects as real as possible. While painting in the style of realism, an artist desires to share the visual space with the viewers. He would also crave to communicate the concept of the space as he or she has seen. In wider meaning, it is like an attempt to recreate the same physical appearance on a canvas.

This is a portrait of Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau She was known in Paris for two things: her extraordinary beauty and her rumoured infidelity. John Sargent had painted her beauty. 

The artists painting under the style of realism initially were from France. The period was the mid-nineteenth century. During this period the field of art of painting was under a gripping spell of romanticism style of painting. Under the Romantic Movement, the artists depicted strong emotions, as they believed that emotion was the real source of aesthetic experience. So those artists assigned a main role to the emotions. It dominated the theme in their paintings. The style known as realism was an outcry against it. The realist artists would paint the objects as near as real, as they would see the figures and the objects through their physical eyes.

The Realism in Art:   Visual arts are the play of aesthetics. So the aesthetics showing that would promote only the depiction of accurate visuals of objects before the eyes of viewers would be called a realist piece of art. The realistic artists would not involve themselves in imaginative idealization. He or she would limit the observation of objects with respect to their outward appearances only.

These realists would not miss infusing a message in painting, too. Coupled with an honest depiction of the scene before their eyes, they would try injecting a message for the viewers. Such an art of messaging would demand much intellect from the artists, too. They need equipping themselves to understand how to choose subjects which would help the communication of reality of the moment. Artists like John Singer Sargent and Edward Manet were good at painting such reality. Landscape painters like Caspar David Friedrich would unfailingly inject a message in his paintings.

Other Paintings by Realist Artists:      The group of the artists who painted under the style of realism includes the master painters like, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Andrew Wyeth.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) was a painter of Romantic landscapes. But he had not missed painting the reality of nature. He painted the mountains and rivers of Germany with oil colours and allegory, as the allegory was his second language. His paintings depicted the various moods of nature; the night skies with subdued colours, the morning mist with bright colours, and sometimes the tree without leaves and ruined building creating the dramatic and allegorical effect in his landscapes.

In many of his paintings, Friedrich tried sending messages, showing the insignificance of humans buy putting a human figure before the vast and powerful natural forces like high mountains or deep valley of the mass volume of water.

The painter of the photo-realistic approach of painting had created an idealised world. He put life into the concepts of goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses, and madonnas by painting these characters on his canvases. 

His artistic insistence for perfection in painting the contours of the female body had generated a good clientele in the wealthy people of nineteenth-century France. Bouguereau’s commitment to the creations of realistic paintings had appealed to his patrons.

Impressionism: Painting Feelings and Play of Light For all practical purposes, the impressionism movement was an energetic revolt against the simple and traditional styles of painting. The artists have started to deny the tastes of consensus; they preferred the freedom of expression over traditional ideas. Impressionist artists are known for their adherence to two main principles. Under the impressionism style of painting, an artist searches for the general impression of a scene. It may be a celebration of a season or a play of sunlight falling on the land. Secondly, the impressionist paintings would be finished in one session.

When the sun lets the flow of liquid gold on the face of the earth, in the early morning slot, an artist would crave to record that event on the pages of a canvas. These artists would generally go outdoor and execute their skill. They would try capturing the natural colours for uploading them on canvases. The major attracting aspect of impressionist art is the use of unmixed colours. They would use the primary colours, applying them with small brush-strokes. These strokes carry the feel of the scene and the energy of the environment.

What is Romanticism:  French Revolution was one of the real sources from which romanticism had evolved. Growing industrialization gave much impetus for escaping from the reality to the artists. In the field of art, the word ‘Romanticism’ has a specific meaning. It conveys the concept showing of sentimentality on one hand, and on another, it refers to the lack of idealism or reality that confines the artistic passion. For artists falling under the category of romanticism, expression was the paramount element. They wanted freedom of expression, and they did it ignoring the social norms and the rules set by convention. Leaving every obstacle aside and trying to reclaim artistic freedom, the romanticism artists filled their canvases with the free play of emotion and imagination.

The subjects the artists followed romanticism movement of art were varied, but they have reserved their heart for human nature and the aspects of men and women that would reveal his or her personality. Some of them had painted subjects showing culture and their ethnic origins, and some have chosen to paint nature. Following are the artists whom we can brand as the artists of the romanticism era.

The artists known as the romantic painters were phenomenal lover of nature. In addition to their unmatched genius, these artists possessed a passion for artistic depiction. While painting persons romantic artists take look very minutely to the factors like the struggled the person had faced and the mood they generally remained occupied.

Impression, Soleil levant,
Claude Monet

Impressionism,  Artists of Here and Now: If we are to name anything as the cornerstone of modern art, the movement of impressionism would have a better claim than any other things. The movement of a new style of painting that was developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth-century had its own peculiarities.

What Is Impressionism?    Impressionism was a statement of some of the revolutionary artists. These artists mainly came from European countries. It was the piece of time on which Tuberculosis was fatal and deviating from the mainstream of art was like virtual death for an artist. But the impressionist artists spoke out in protest of the ‘set rules’, which were ruling the art world of the day. These brave artists painted in the open air instead of confining themselves within the four walls of studios. They adored and painted daily life and ordinary-looking landscapes. The viewers and art lovers liked these paintings, as they felt attached to this form of art. Use of bight colours, applying short brush strokes, and near-exact representation of the effects of the light falling on the objects: these were the main ingredients of impressionism.

The Artists: J. M. Turner of England or Jan Vermeer can be taken as the artists who had shown the signs of the new style of painting that would be called impressionism. Turner was an artist who had experienced to defuse the effects of light falling on the objects to be painted.

Jan Vermeer, a Dutch painter, had adored genre painting by depicting the life of common people; he had used the sharp use of light and shadows to make his painting looking realistic. Impressionist painters like Renoir and Manet had given an identity to the colours they used. While going onto canvass, through their brushes, the colours would get more pictorial power and visual balance. Such was their artistic prowess; such were their dedication to the art. They injected a special mood into each and every painting of them; may it be landscape painting or paintings of the cityscape in watercolour.

Impressionism Vs Invention of Photography:     The second half of the nineteenth century had witnessed two parallel developments: one in the sector of the arts and another in the technology concerning the art. There had been the emergence of photography in this spell of time, and on the purely scientific and technical sphere, there had been progressing about knowing the properties of light and colour. In a way, these developments had challenged the strength of the art of painting. But there had been befitting respond from the then artists. The name of this response was the ‘Impressionism movement’ of art.

Theme: Impressionist painters facing the challenge of the technological developments of photography:  It was beyond doubt that the inventions and rapid developments in the field of photography were not a small challenge to the painters of the late nineteenth century. People and some of the clients who preferred portraits and paintings on their walls were changing their preference in favour of a new and cheap medium of art, the photographs. The artist those who were working under the umbrella of impressionism did not lose the golden opportunity that the developments in the field of colour properties and light have emerged in the same period. They took advantages of the inventions in these fields to help their aesthetic agenda.

It was the time when Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 –1901) started his short-lived life and a career in art that put an unforgettable impression on the hearts and minds of art lovers. His oil and watercolours are some of the wonderful canvases of the treasure of art in general and in France in particular. The dominant style of painting in those days was ‘impressionism’. Post era of impressionist style was emerging, too. Lautrec had worked in both eras. His paintings have glimpses of both the styles, post-impressionist and modern style.

Toulouse-Lautrec's Subjects of Painting   He mainly chose the decaying city life of Paris as his subject. His unmatched craftsmanship had resulted in one of the best visual experiences painted by French artists. One of his paintings, La blanchisseuse, was sold for US$ 22.4 Million in 2005 in an auction done by Christie’s.Lautrec walked on the streets of Montmartre, the streets well-walked by many artists, play writers and philosophers. He lived there for almost two decades. What he saw there became the subjects he wanted to recreate on canvases. His painting had one peculiarity: even if the people were in a crowd, many of them could be identified; and were actually identified, too. His dexterous lining and precisely drawn counters made his figurative painting so enjoyable. 

He painted the figures with an individualized touch. He was a master in painting the figures having a lighter background, giving an identifiable shape to the person painted. Lautrec was in Paris at the time when the Moulin Rouge opened. he painted many landscapes and figurative paintings, keeping the model Carmen Gaudin who had modelled for La Blanchisseuse, 'The Washerwoman'. [Image Courtesy: The Washerwoman, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.[All the paintings are in Public Domains, taken from Wikimedia Commons]


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