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Post Impressionism And Art Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

Post Impressionism and Art

Modernism is an art movement that is characterized by a deliberate departure from tradition to a more expressive form that distinguishes many styles in the arts and literature of the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Emile Bernard was part of this modern art movement as can be seen in his painting, "Breton Woman and Haystacks", painted around 1888. Impressionists were modern artists who tended to paint outside landscapes and street scenes and were concerned with the effects of light. Bernard was a Post-Impressionist artist who considered Impressionism too casual or too naturalistic, and sought a means of exploring emotion in paint. Bernard's work, "Breton Woman and Haystacks", depicts a woman in traditional clothing with a picturesque landscape in the background as influenced by Japanese prints and Medieval stained glass windows. The techniques used in prints and stained glass windows were used to create an abstract painting that combined strong pure colors surrounded by heavy black outlines and repetitive shapes based on agricultural landscapes and local costume.
Modern artists were concerned with new types of paints and other materials, in expressing feelings and ideas, in creating abstractions and fantasies, rather than representing what is real. This kind of art requires its audience to observe the work carefully in order to get some facts about the artist, his intention, and his environment before forming judgments about the work. "Breton Woman and Haystacks" shows a contemporary woman wearing traditional costume standing in a secluded countryside. The painting signaled Bernard's fully realized break from Impressionism. There is no pretence that it represents an objective view of nature. Bernard used conventional Breton women as a subject matter because they represented a culture unspoiled by contemporary society and rural wholesomeness. He also liked their version of Catholicism because they believed God was noticeable in everyday life. This attraction to the Breton way of life is apparent by the way Bernard paints them. Both the woman and the landscape are drawn simply; the figures do not look realistic but the viewer is able to distinguish what each object is. The simple geometric form of the woman's hat and the shape of the haystacks are very similar in contour, yet both are easily discernable. Likewise, the trees and the clouds are alike in their shape, as well as the curves of the woman's eyes and mouth are similar to the rolling hills behind her. The painting is considered to be abstract because the imagery used in the work departs from representational accuracy. Abstract artists such as Bernard select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them. Bernard's rendering of the Breton woman in her simple attire juxtaposed with the countryside communicates his belief that she is nearer to nature and God than contemporary peoples. The stylized...

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