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Centrality Of Paris In Impressionism Essay

1557 words - 7 pages

Impressionism is the name given to the art movement that changed art forever. Starting in France in the 1860's, Impressionism was considered a radical break from tradition.1 Through the work of artists including Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas impressionism was born. Impressionists painted outside and focused greatly on light and its reflection. They painted quickly on primed white canvas with short visible brushstrokes and placed separate colours side by side letting the viewer’s eyes mix them. (Techniques uncommon to art at this time) Regarding their subject they again broke with tradition and painted anything they wanted including the modernity of Paris and the everyday life of its citizens. This new found freedom regarding subject along with unconventional techniques greatly displeased the L’École des Beaux-Arts where academic artists would have worked on subjects such as history, royalty and mythology.2 In contrast to the impressionists their work had a smooth varnished finish, showing little to no evidence of the artist’s presence. Having introduced Impressionism, I aim to in this essay analyse why the city of Paris is at the heart of the impressionist movement. Firstly by looking at how Paris helped create the impressionist movement and secondly how Paris fuelled it.
Paris is vital to the impressionist movement as all the key impressionist artists mentioned above where born or lived in Paris. A significant artist who broke with tradition in his work was Manet. Paris born Manet is considered today as the father of impressionism. He began his art career studying under the academic painter Thomas Couture3 progressing to open his own studio in 1856 where he experimented with less controlled brush strokes, use of contrasting hues and different subjects. At the time his work was considered unfinished in the world for academic painting and it was hard for him to show his paintings. For example his submission of ‘Le Buveur d'absinthe’ to the Paris Salon in 1859 was rejected, due to absinthe being viewed as morally degenerate and his technique of visible brushstrokes and uneven finish. In the early 1860’s and critical to the rise of impressionism, Manet and his work gained received welcomed recognition through the encouragement of Parisian Poet Charles Baudelaire. Like Manet and the other impressionists Baudelaire took inspiration from the Modern city of Paris notably in the section Tableaux Parisiens in his poem collection Les Fleurs du Mal. Alan Bowness writes: “It was Baudelaire’s friendship that gave Manet the encouragement to plunge into the unknown to find the new, and in doing so to become the true painter of modern life.”4 It was Manet’s break from tradition that subsequently encouraged other artists to follow suit. His use of clashing colours was in abundance in Renoir’s ‘Boating on the Seine’. The simplification of detail is evident in Degas’s ‘After The Bath’ and harsh brush strokes are...

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