Application of scientific theory – technological innovation Urbanisation Acceleration Shifts in concepts of space and time
How do these issues affect artistic vision/aesthetic practice in late C19? How do artists view the changing world?AND How does their vision shape the viewer’s perception?
Movement in painting – mid to late C19 (esp. France) Music (e.g. Claude Debussy, Muarice Ravel) Also associated with literature (including English-speaking world, France and Spain)e.g. Literature: e.g. Goncourt brothers Alphonse Daudet, (France), Gabriel Miró (Spain), English-speaking fiction: Joseph Conrad Henry James, The Art of Fiction (1884) ‘a novel is in its broadest definition a personal, direct impression of life’ (cit. in Matz, 13) Virginia Woolfe: literary fiction should aim to ‘render the “myriad impressions” that fall upon the mind’ (Matz, 13)
Truth to real life as it is lived and experiencedImpression - double-edged concept: Recording of what the subject sees. Imprint of the object on the beholder.
France: ‘high period’ of Impressionism (painting) ca. mid-1870’s-1890’s Associated artists: Claude Monet, Camille Pisarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Armand Guillaumin, Gustave Caillebotte, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet Later: Paul Signac, Georges Seurat (‘Post- Impressionists’) Also associated with the Impressionists: Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin
Rejection of/ reaction to the established art world Painted the modern world as they saw it Connection to schools of realism/naturalism Focus on light and colour Ideal of spontaneity Questioning of traditional ‘rules’ and techniques ‘Á temps nouveaux, procédés neufs’ [new methods for new times] (Huysmans, cit in Thomson, 198)
Group did not coin their own name (coined by critic Louis Leroy in a satirical review in Le Charivari, 1874) Did not adhere to one set of practices Mixed group of different personalities, styles and interests. BUT Common feature: painters of modernity (themes, style and business practice)
Central focus for artists/viewing public = ‘salon’ Salon – annual exhibitions: strictly controlled, official forum: work admitted by jury. Rejection of works, which did not ‘fit in’ 1864 - one-off organisation of a ‘Salon des Refusés’ because so many works rejected.
Increasing popularity of salons: early part of the century fewer than 500 works shown, by the 1860s 4-5,000 works 1866: ca.300,000 visitors. (Thomson, 15) Development of art market as ‘an intrinsic feature of […] developing capitalist economy’ (Thomson, 221)
1848: short-lived revolution (end of the July monarchy and election of Louis Napoléon as leader of government). 1851: Louis Napoléon seized power founding the Second Empire. 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War and defeat of Napoleon. 1870 Founding of the Third Republic. March-May: 1871 Paris Commune (revolutionary uprising – brutally suppressed).
Interest in ‘plein air’ (outdoor) painting Interest in natural light Fascination with colour– move away from dark tones Rough surface – often vigorous brushstrokes Separation of colours instead of highly tonal, polished surface Fragmentation – detail is sketchy
First Impressionist (‘independent’) group exhibition 15 April – 15 May, 1874 7 further exhibitions: April 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1886 Economic aims – marketplace for paintings. Democratic/egalitarian structure BUT: no ‘manifesto’, not a deliberate political statement
Themes andsubjects Frédéric Bazille (letter to his parents, 1866) I have tried to paint, as well as I can, the simplest possible subjects. In my opinion the subject matters little provided that what I do is interesting as painting. I have chosen to paint our own age because this is what I understand best, because it is more alive and because I am painting forSelf Portrait 1865-6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr living people. So of course my%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Bazille pictures will be rejected.’ (Pool, 93)
Everyday life Landscape painting (influence of painters such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet ( 1819 –1877) and Jean-François Millet (1817-1875). Countryside and seaside: often focus on modern life in suburban scenes Bourgeoisie at leisure (sailing, café life, modern entertainment) Cityscapes - especially Paris
Baron Georges Hausmann (1809-1891) Creation of a capital city – heart of the empire and showcase for French technology and culture. Synonymous with modernity.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges-Eug%C3%A8ne_Haussmann
Completion of project to create wide thoroughfares (clearance of unwanted buildings – including working-class neighbourhoods, creation of spaces which could be more easily policed). Building of large uniform blocks (incl. luxury apartments with retail outlets below)
Remodelling of riverside: creation of access to waterways, embankments Facilitation of traffic e.g. new bridges (application of modern construction methods) Creation of public spaces e.g. parks New buildings for public use e.g. palace for Exposition Universelle 1855, Opéra (‘Palais Garnier’: Charles Garnier 1861-7)
Vital improvements to sanitation (cholera epidemic 1847: ca. 19,000 deaths) Gas lighting (later electric): ‘City of Light’Huge cost (est. 2 500 000 000 Francs,employment of ca. 20% of labourers in 1860’s)
Claude MonetBoulevard desCapucines(1873-7)(view from studioof Félix Nadar)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boulevard_des_Capucines,_Claude_Monet,_1873-1874_-_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08982.JPG
Developmentsin photographyEadweard Muybridge(1830-1904)1800’s: Interest inphotographing movingimagesThe Horse in Motion(1877-8)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Horse_in_Motion.jpg
Cityscape not a new genre but becomes very significant at this time Viewpoints provided by new city structures (a bourgeois – commanding? – viewpoint?) Capturing movement and hustle and bustle of the city – the fleeting and ephemeral. The flow of the masses – anonymous?
Photography: both a challenge to and influence on painting: Portraiture; pictures of the new environment (engineering); capturing the moment; new angles and viewpoints; effects e.g. blurring: emphasis on colour as particular to painting . Influence of Japanese art (1850s, opening up of trade with Europe) – esp flattening of image, flat areas of colour, foreshortening/cutting off of frame Variety of styles to treat same subject matter: e.g. in these examples Caillebotte – more sober realism, Pisarro – feathery touch, vibrant colours, fragmentation
Beauty to be found in observing the everyday world – overlap between natural and industrial worlds
Fascination with everyday subjects as they appear to the viewer (impression). Interest in observing and capturing the play of light (often, but not always outdoors). Fascination with water and reflections. Representation of industrial motifs: harmonizing effect natural/industrial world in focus on movement and light (romanticised view?).
More frequently: focus on leisure (key feature of new working/urban environment) (NB: aside from a few pictures e.g. Manet Execution of Emperor Maximilian (1868-9), Civil War (1873) – political subjects are not treated. Leisure pursuits depicted include sailing, café life, theatre/opera, circus, horse racing
Frequent depiction of leisure pursuits of wealthy and working people – enjoyment of suburbs countryside (characteristic of work/leisure divide, urban life, affluence of some classes, mass pleasures).
Experimentation with brushwork: Rough or patchy, fragmented, unvarnished paintings – movement and activity of artist captured on canvas- - Importance of innovation- Observation but subjective impression of the artist (restrictions of style?)Use of colour: Availability of new pigments and equipment (e.g. metal tubes for paints)
Scientific interest in optics and mechanisms of sense perception: e.g. Ernst Mach (1838-1916) physicist and philosopher – centrality of sensual perception
Influence of scientific theories of colour and optics e.g. Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786 –1889) – (Gobelin textile factory) ‘De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs, (1839) [English translation 1854 : The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors]e.g. Effect of light on objects of perception Mutual influence of juxtaposed colours Aura of complementary colour around an object
Chevreul advocated that painters should follow the principle of “true or absolute colouring” i.e. “the faithful reproduction in painting of the modification which light enables us to perceive in the objects which the painter selects for his models.” (cit. in Homer, 24)
‘It will be the characteristic mark of the art of this century that it has approached the contemporary through woman. Woman really forms the transition between the painting of the past and the painting of the future’ (art critic Camille Lemonnier, 1900 cit in Thomson, 163) Women painters – e.g. Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassat Women as subjects of painting – old topos but new interpretations.
Female artists e.g. Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt Importance of female subject for Impressionism – fashionable bourgeois ladies, ladies and women at leisure in the urban context. Influence of commercial illustration (e.g. fashion) Traditional interest in female beauty but now need to find new contexts (e.g. Degas – bathing paintings - Renoir return to more traditional concepts with nudes in non-specific settings)
Also: Impressionism as bourgeois art – often male gaze Women: changing social roles and experience (in urban environment – leisure, entertainment etc.) Sometimes: changing perception of sexuality e.g. Manet, Olympia.
Denvir, Bernard (ed.), The Impressionists at First Hand (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987). Homer, William Innes, Seurat and the Science of Painting (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985). Matz, Jesse, Literary Impressionism and Modernist Aesthetics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) Pool, Phoebe, Impressionism (London: Thames and Hudson, 1988). Rubin, James H., Impressionism and the modern landscape : productivity, technology, and urbanization from Manet to Van Gogh (Berkeley, CA, London : University of California Press, 2008). Thomson, Belinda, Impressionism: Origins, Practice, Reception (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000).