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FAH245 - The Impressionists.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Jordan Bear

What are the characteristics of Impressionism?  Subject Matter?  Location?  Style?  Speed?  Official or unofficial? - freedom, ease of workmanship, lack of finish are things that impressionist painters wish to convey The Aesthetic of the “Unfinished” Claude Monet: La Grenouillere, 1869  impressionist paintings were generally very small  Monet begins with the intention of creating a conventional picture  during the course of making the sketches for the painting, he discovers that they are more evocative than a finished painting  as we look at the painting close up and see it in its abstract form, we see how it both creates an illusion and shows how that illusion is created - in a traditional historical painting, the compositional sketch, the things that show how a picture is made, the decision making of the artist, are not visible to the viewer - the finished product is shown, none of the unfinished details, it is highly finished - Monet is making those very sketches the finished product, showing how the painting comes to be by seeing the brushstrokes Plein-air Painting: Technique and Symbol - Monet, Women in a Garden, 1867  very large for an impressionist painting 21/2 meters by  he goes to a country house and maneuvers his way around this very large canvas very quickly by building a scaffold (?) around the painting  the instantaneous can be captured because he is able to move around the painting almost instantaneously  making a picture in his garden, is important by giving direct access to his subject matter but also stands for a pure direct experience of nature, captures what a studio picture could not from painting from memory - Renoir, Monet in a Garden  idea of immediacy and of painting outdoors  you see that Monet is indeed in his garden, the raw vitality of what he is witnessing is tapped into directly without being watered down by a months long experience of endless sketches, planning, and recollection from memory - Monet, The Studio-Boat, 1874  Serial Paintings - impressionists become interested in painting series, paintings that are based on a constant motif (subject) - this is for practical reasons as well as ideological reasons Monet, Gare St. Lazare, 1877, Musee d‟Orsay, Paris  he changes the atmosphere to make the experience unique compared to a different moment in time  the differences in weather, season, changes the experience of the viewer being at the place  he captures these instantaneous different moments that are changed by different atmospheres  the sky is clear, it is the morning, the pink light coming from the houses in the background Monet on his motifs: “I want to paint the air in which the bridge, the house, and the boat are to be found – the beauty of the air around them. To me…the motif itself is an insignificant factor.” “For me, the landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment.” - it is not about the motif itself but the constant factor in it (?) - a series is necessary because no single painting could describe the range in visual possibilities even for a single motif - in the painting Gare St. Lazare (1877) not much of the interior space has changed, however the atmosphere has changed, the space has been subjected to different climate/environmental features - the desire to try and capture the complete experience that one can have in a single space makes the series absolutely necessary - by the 1890‟s Monet is producing almost exclusively series of paintings - commercial advantage: - Monet, Haystack at Sunset, 1891 - Monet, Haystack in the Morning, Snow Effect, 1891 - they are strangely concentrated in one geographical area (for the haystacks and grain stacks paintings were mainly in Boston) - if you were a relatively wealthy Bostonian who earned their money (usually industrially) you would want to decorate your home in pieces that shows your understanding of art - they would seek the help of an art consultant (as befitting their rank) who would advise them to buy a haystack painting - Money happily painted them, but made them very different, because no wealthy person would want to walk into their friend/rival‟s house and see the exact same painting - Monet may have begun with the idea of capturing the beauty of different atmospheres of the same space, but may have done them for commercial means later on when he was rich and famous - it does not diminish the beauty of the paintings, just explains why he was still painting series so late in his life - people are missing in his paintings, why was this desirable for a person of wealth who came to their position through industrial or agricultural operations? - what these pictures imply is that Money is not just capturing the ultimate view but several possible views Leisure and Modernity - leisure equals people who have access time and money on their hands relative to the amount of money they need to do Renoir, Ball at the Moulin de la Galette, 1876  popular café at the base of an old wind mill with a garden that is popular that is popular for concerts and drinking  space that is emerging and whose social and cultural limits are still being worked out  place you can drink a lot, dance with someone you just met,  the impressionist loved spaces with what seems like a new modern, urban way of living and world, and the vestiges of old ways of thinking about social relations are still very present Degas, The café-concert at “Les Ambassadeurs” 1877  a fashionable night club with a certain open outdoor seating area  think to yourself at first that the colours are quite garish, this is intentional because Degas is trying to paint artifi
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