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Impressionism And Post Impressionism

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Autor:  denver_d  30 April 2010
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Expressive Essay

In this essay, I will contrast and compare the two art movements, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism.
I will be concentrating on the works of the two leading artists of these styles Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
The impressionist movement is often considered to mark the beginning of the modern period of art. It was developed in France during the late 19th century. The impressionist movement arose out of dissatisfaction with the classical, dull subjects and clean cut precise techniques of painting. They preferred to paint outdoors concentrating more on landscapes and street scenes, and began to paint ordinary everyday people and liked to show the effects in natural light.
Claude Monet is often considered one of greatest most dedicated of the Impressionist painters. His aim was to catch the light and atmosphere, something that was scarcely done before. He enjoyed painting outdoors and developed a free and spontaneous painting technique. His brushwork is remarkably flexible and varied. He often changed his technique, sometimes broad and sweeping other times dappled and sparkling.
Le Grenouillere is a typical example of how much the style of painting had changed. The piece has been painted outdoors using light and bright colours, and is of a fairly ordinary everyday scene. It is a work in which we see his art losing the last of its stiffness and clean cut edge.
The composition concentrates mainly on the foreground .It has three main points of interest, the small rowing boats, the artificial island and the floating barge .It also has a stretch of trees and foliage in the background painted in a much lighter fashion. Monet's painting has a very different composition from Renoir's painting of Grenouillere, which was done at the same time; Renoir's painting is focused
much more on the artificial island and the people on it. Monet uses a combination of thick bold brushstrokes and small short soft brushstrokes; this creates a nice varied look and helps give a good impression of perspective. The tone is also very varied as it is Very light in some areas, but it is also quite dark in others, such as the shades on the barge. The use of dark shades in the foreground makes the boat look so realistic and quite 3D. Although the middle ground is flatter this helps add to the perspective. The water however is what really makes the painting so good.When looked at from just a short distance away it looks really smooth and realistic, but on closer inspection we can see that it is actually made up of short broken brushwork. This is where we can see the painting still holding onto a touch of the more classical style, but is achieved in a much more impressionistic fashion the mood of the painting is quite peaceful and calming, and the relaxed people and light colours give it a happy and uplifting feel. I think that Monet through his painting was trying to capture a typical laid back French scene. He is also trying to break away from the paintings of the past, that were more sombre and didn't show ordinary people and their lives. I really enjoyed studying this painting and feel that Monet has created a piece which has many interesting and intriguing features and touches, such as the light bouncing across the water, and shows what a skilled and talented painter he was.
The Road-Bridge at Argentil painted in 1874 was another of Claude Monet's pieces. It is of a river scene, which has a small sailing boat as its main point of interest. The boat is painted in just a dark shade but this contrasts well with the lighter surroundings. We look on this piece from the riverbank, with the small boat perfectly positioned just slightly to the left, which allows us to have an uninterrupted view of the long bridge with its different shapes and curves. The bridge helps give an impression of perspective and leads your eye onto the house, small boat and riverbank in the background. The brushwork in this painting is very short and broken in all places, however it is much less obvious in the sky and on the shadows. The shadows help make the boat and the bridge look more three-dimensional especially on the bridge where it really adds to the curvature of the arcs. Aside from the dark shadows the painting is done in light, bright colours and once again Monet shows his skill in portraying a nice sunny day by the riverside. He has managed to give the impression of calm rippling water by using rough brushstrokes. He uses a mix of light and darker colours to show the sun glistening across the water. The painting creates a relaxing and the light colours, calm water and slow moving boats create pleasant mood, which I think. I like this painting and I especially like the way in which Monet has created many different areas that show a range of colours, techniques and all add something different to the painting. This variety draws you in and shows a real commitment and dedication to detail.
These two paintings have many similarities, however they both show different sides to Monet's style of painting. Le Grenouillere has much thicker brushstrokes and concentrates on darker colours such as greens and browns. In the Road- Bridge he tends to use much lighter yellows and blues and his brushstrokes are much shorter and rougher. This creates quite different moods and the second painting has a much sunnier and happier mood. The paintings are very similar in that the effects of the sun bouncing across the water plays a key part in both paintings. I would have to say The Road-Bridge at Argentile is my personal favourite as I love the fact that it is so varied and shows so many sides to Monet's painting style.
Post- impressionism was a variety of movements driven by a group of individual artists all seeking a new way to create art. Post-Impressionism used ideas from impressionism, such as working from real life, using brilliant colours and broken brushstrokes, but rejected the idea of painting scenes exactly as they appeared. They experimented with unusual compositions and often used the texture of paint to show forms. Unlike the impressionists who were a close knit group they chose to work alone developing their own individual styles.
One of the best examples of these individual styles can be seen in the work of Vincent van Gogh. He especially liked to use extremely bright and intense colours combined with long swirl brushstrokes. Van Gogh had serious mental problems and used his work to express his often-varied feelings.
A good example of Vincent Van Gogh's work is The Church at Auvers painted in 1890. In this painting he uses a range of dark and light colours to create the chosen effect. The main point of interest in this picture is the large central church with its range of surfaces and textures. We look head on at the church which fills the main part of the painting. It is quite two-dimensional and although the two wide paths that leads round both sides of the church help to create a small element of perspective this is limited due to the lack of background area .The brushwork is mainly short and thick and appears to be quite layered which makes the lines quite soft and flowing. The overall tone of the piece is fairly dark and sombre with the main areas of light concentrated on the bottom of the painting. There are some particularly dark areas such as the stormy clouds and the shadowing around the front of the church which helps add to the atmosphere created by the picture .The use of colour is quite varied and seems to go from one extreme to another which could be reflecting Van Gogh's feelings at the time. This range of colours adds to the diversity and individuality of his artwork especially the deep cobalt blue in the sky and ultramarine blotches on the windows. Form and the perception of 3d-ness is portrayed well although it does not seem to be a main feature in this particular piece .The amount of layers and wide brushstrokes gives the impression of a coarse, rough texture which could also add to the darkened mood that is given of from this picture .It creates a range of emotions from charged and dramatic to eerie and almost sinister .I feel that the reason there is no obvious entry to the church could be showing us of his feelings towards the way he had been treated by the people there .
I was very intrigued by "The Church at Auvers" and think that they way Vincent van Gogh conveys his thoughts and emotions through his paintings is very refreshing and make you feel that he is putting a little of himself into his work.

The Starry Night is another piece by Van Gogh and was done in St Remey-de-Provence in 1989.The painting is looking down on the small town from an imaginary viewpoint with a large bush and expressive sky as the main points of interest .It is composed in quite a typical fashion with a large church spire connecting the cosmic drama of the sky and the undulating waves of hills in the background with the village in the middle ground. Perspective is used quite well with a large busy scene being successfully compacted without looking distorted or altered. The short sharp lines give a rough texture and the use of longer lines in certain areas gives a nice flow to the painting especially on the large bush .The tone is quite varied but overall is mainly dark, shadow is defined well in many places, for example in between the house and where the hills overlap .The use of colour is also quite varied with different shades of blue giving the impression of night-time. Although a large percentage of the painting is done in dark blue colours the large bursts of white, yellows and orange stop it from becoming too dark or dull .The sense of form is shown well in many areas with the church in the town and the mountains in the background looking very 3 dimensional and quite realistic. The mood that is created is very atmospheric and energetic with the bright swirls and bursts of light in the sky giving off a feel of passion and perhaps even anger .I think that Van Gogh was trying to capture this scene of turbulent starlight as it reflected his feelings that he was "only an instrument in the creative process of the universe."
I really like this piece as it is so complex and varied and I like the way the raging sky takes main importance which is something that you rarely see in a painting .You can really feel this painting and can imagine yourself in Van Gogh's position looking down on the village with the sky playing the perfect background.
These two paintings are quite different although they do share some similarities. The Church at Auvers uses a much larger range of brushstrokes where as The Starry Night concentrates more on short rough lines. This use of varied brushstroke creates a more realistic feel where as The Starry Night has a more abstract and expressionist look .The mood of the first piece is much more sombre and dark compared to the more upbeat and exciting atmosphere created by Van Gogh's other piece .The paintings are similar in that they both centre around quite dark colours but have extreme bright colours in selected areas .I think that my favourite between the two would be The Starry Night because of the emotion and atmosphere it creates although I also like The Church at Auvers very much .

The two styles Impressionism and Post-Impressionism have many
Similarities even though they do seem very different from each other .I like the way in which the Impressionist painters managed to break away from the traditional ways of painting. Their careful ways painting which show the effects of light (especially on water) so well are really to be admired. Their use of light bright colours made the way for future painters to become free and express their artwork how they choose. They used short sharp brushwork similar to the Post-Impressionist painters and I feel that Post-Impressionism seems to be almost like a more extreme version of Impressionism. However of the two styles I think that I prefer the Post-Impressionist style as I feel it is freer, bright and shows more emotion. I especially like the long broken and sometimes swirly brushwork which gives everyday scenes a more interesting and exciting feel .The use of bright and vibrant colours brings the paintings to life and creates a range of moods .The artist which I like the most is Van Gogh as I feel his artwork is really quite outstanding .He creates whole new and exciting visions of his interpretations on the things he sees. Not only did he create vivid and intense paintings but also he could express his moods and feelings through them.


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