French Impressionists

I find it difficult to think of the French Impressionist painters as radical, mainly because I find their style of art peaceful to view, often creating a feeling of serenity in my mind. But in their time (late 19th C.) , the French Impressionists were busting out of the conventional rules for art and experiencing their passion for the moment; a single instant in time where light and shadow affected the world as they saw it. They discarded detail and realism, opting for feeling—an “impression” of that particular moment in time.

“How can this be? This is not art!” the people cried. “How barbaric to paint en plein air! Where is the realism? Where are the somber colors? Where are the distinguished themes? Ye gads! Are those brush strokes I see?” Needless to say, the critics were unreceptive to this new style. One critic, Louis Leroy, scornfully charged Monet’s Impression, soleil levant with being an unfinished work or “impression” and the name for the new art movement was coined.

Despite the harsh criticism, Impressionists like Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, and others persevered, creating unique works of art that captured candid moments in time; their quick brush strokes of unblended color recreating what the eye sees instead of what the brain interprets. Works like Monet’s Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son and Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette  are examples of how these Impressionists captured the moment with their paint brush.

Eventually this new style gained public favor, but for a time these artists were revolutionaries, freed from the boundaries of traditional painting, encouraging more spontaneity in the field of art and making way for a more avant-garde painting style in the years to come. In their time, the French Impressionists were cutting edge.

If you have the chance to see an Impressionist exhibit at your local art museum, you’ll experience first-hand why these works are so amazing. Viewing these works up-close and personal creates an impact that you just can’t get when viewing the works on the web.

Click here for more information on Impressionism and the artists involved.