Lecture: Impressionism (Listen and Read)

Error! Cannot load audio!
Please try again later :(
1 / 83
Lecture: Impressionism
Press "Space" to Play/Pause
Press and to move between sentences.
So, we've been looking at the different art movements that developed in Europe,
and today we're going to look at Impressionism.
So let's get started.
Let's begin with when Impressionism started.
The movement of impressionism began in the 19th century in Paris,
it was originated with a select group of artists who exhibited their work independently.
Later on, these artists became prominent in the 1870s and 1880s.
Yes! Amy?
Why is it called Impressionism?
Well, the term 'impressionism' comes from a painting by Claude Monet,
which he showed at an exhibition with the name “Soleil Levant”.
In English, it means Impression, Sunrise.
The name was coined by a critic, Louis Leroy.
He saw the exhibition and wrote a satirical review in which he said...
that all the paintings were just "impressions".
At that time, Louis Leroy and the art community were very hostile towards the new movement.
However, they soon came to recognize that these new Impressionists had captured a fresh and original vision,
even though the art establishment remained disapproving.
So why did this type of art cause so much friction?
A very good question!
Obviously, the focus of the art was very different.
Think of what we had leading up to this point.
Formal portraits. Very stiff, very static...
very focused on the accuracy of line and contours.
Quite dark too.
Artists mixed colors with black to make darker shades,
and that was what resulted in that effect.
The impressionists, however, focused more on open scenes and were more interested in light and movement.
The scenes themselves were relatively ordinary.
When we think of Impressionism, our minds often jump to outdoor scenes,
and it's true that there was an abundance of these,
but there were also lives, and images of people,
but these were not traditional portraits,
these people were captured from unusual angles,
getting on with whatever they were doing,
seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were being captured.
Up until that point, even outdoor scenes had been painted indoors,
and that's why the play of light and movement didn't really register.
Now it came to the fore.
One thing that allowed this to happen was the introduction of premixed paints
that came in lead tubes, like toothpaste tubes.
Artists no longer had to laboriously grind and mix their own paints using pigments and linseed oil.
They could just take their paints outside and paint what they saw.
Or inside, for that matter.
If they saw a particularly wonderful feature of light,
they could just go ahead and capture it right away.
And I think that spontaneity is what Impressionism is all about.
Alright! Now let's look at the specific elements of Impressionist painting.
We see short brush strokes, with no effort to blend these together.
The colors aren't mixed with any gradation from light to shade.
Pure colours are put together side by side.
Our eyes do the work of mixing colors together.
But the effect that this gives is intensity, vibrancy, vibration, and...
this creates the impression of movement.
Paints are often laid on impasto - so that they stick out from the surface, not smoothed down.
Details are out.
The essence of the subject is what matters.
You have to understand that they're not looking for a photographic reproduction here.
And there's no use of black, even to create shade.
That's done by mixing complementary colors.
Other rules that were sensible to previous artists went out of the window.
Wet paint was laid on top of wet paint, no matter if it went on smudgy.
That gave a soft edge, an intermingling of colour that the impressionists were aiming for.
Glazes, that is, thin films of paint, which earlier artists used to create effects and transparent surfaces, were not used.
Impressionist painting surfaces were typically opaque.
Yes! Amy?
I've learned that France wasn't the only place where painters were getting out into the open air.
There were other painters such as the Italian artists known as the Macchiaioli
and Winslow Homer in the United States who were painting outside.
Yes! But they didn't bring in those techniques I've just been talking about.
Also, the impressionists were not the first to use these techniques, either.
Painters throughout history had occasionally used these methods.
To name a few, Rubens, Constable, and Turner.
They all incorporated some Impressionist techniques,
but it was the impressionists who brought all techniques altogether.
Impressionists such as Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, and Théodore Rousseau
were the French painters who led the way in French Impressionist movement.
And painters of the Barbizon school such as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Eugène Boudin
were also very influential towards the Impressionists,
as they painted nature in a style that was similar to Impressionism,
and it is they who taught the younger artists who we regard as the true Impressionists.
In turn, impressionism paved the way for later styles like Neo-Impressionism,
Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism.
Related links:
This lesson belongs to BestMyTest.com - a website to help you prepare for TOELF, IELTS and TOEIC exams.