Impressionism Abbey Rutan - Survey of the arts

Impressionism was first developed during the 19th century in Paris, France. Impressionism was a modern way of expressing oneself. The impressionist movement was accelerated after the French revolution. Impressionism soon spread throughout all of Europe and then eventually spread to the United States. Religion in France, at the time, was controlled by the state to discourage any thought of another revolution. During the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte was in charge. There was a contract signed that eventually would separate church and state. Impressionism went along with the modernizing of society. Railways were being constructed, along with tree-lined boulevards to replace the narrow and crowded streets. Large apartments and duplexes were being built. Architecture was mainly focused on scenery and on people's emotions and senses. It looked at leisure rather than function. Science during this time was beginning to understand that what we see and what the brain can understand are two separate ideas. During the impressionism period, the 19th century sought to capture the effects of light, look at time, study weather changes, and look at atmosphere changes. Impressionism was started by artists who opposed government-sanctioned exhibitions. Impressionist artists were shunned by big art companies or institutions. Since impressionist artists could not show their art at these institutions, they started their own exhibitions where they could share their art. Impressionism aimed to capture emotions of both the artist and the viewer.
The Skiff (La Yole), 1875 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Art during the impressionism era was very different from previous art. Impressionism art used loosened brushwork and light colors which included pure and intense colors. There was an abandoned linear perspective. Impressionistic art looked to be made as memories, rather than art pieces to be sold. Landscapes and setting were very important in art during this time. Three impressionist artists popular during this time were Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas. Pictured above is a piece from Renoir. This piece is a great example of impressionism art. One can see, when looking, the loose brush strokes, bright colors, and focus on scenery. This piece would have been a piece not approved by big art industries of the time. Art industries opposed this type of art because of its unfinished look.
Impression, Sunrise, (1872) by Claude Monet
The piece pictured above, by Claude Monet, is another great example of impressionist art. Here one can see the unfinished look that many found unappealing during this time. The piece has no linear perspective. This piece has a soft, misty look that is calming and peaceful. The viewer can have an emotional connection with this piece. Below, a piece by Edgar Degas, features ballet dancers with their mothers. There is no clear focal point within this piece and one has to take a step back to see its entirety. Viewers are asked to form their own conclusions to the piece.
The Dance Class, 1874 by Edgar Degas
Impressionism musical artists were getting away from romanticism. There was an emphasis on timbres in the music. Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Erik Satie were three of the biggest musical artists of this time. Their music went along with the modernization that came with impressionism. Featured below is a piece from Claude Debussy. This piece is very popular still today. Once can hear and feel the emotions of the music that Debussy is portraying.
Music during this time focused on emotions and focused on people's senses. Just as architecture was focused more on leisure, music was as well. Music during the impressionism era looked to show people a snapshot into the life of the listener. Below is a musical piece by Erik Satie. Just as Claude Debussy's piece evoked emotion, one can hear Erik Satie's piece doing the same.
Impressionism is mostly focused on art. Impressionist literature is just as important though. The literature during this time was ambiguous. Much like art, readers were to form their own conclusions. Most of the impressionist literature was through the eyes of the main character. In the impressionist literature, there is a lot of detail put into the pieces and it is difficult to see a clear picture of events if one focuses on details. The literature did not show events in chronological order, rather it had events put in a way that helps the reader see the emotions of the writing. Featured below is a piece from Joseph Conrad's, Heart of Darkness.

"I saw a face amongst the leaves on the level with my own, looking at me very fierce and steady; and then suddenly, as though a veil had been removed from my eyes, I made out, deep in the tangled gloom, naked breasts, arms, legs, glaring eyes – the bush was swarming with human limbs in movement, glistening, of bronze colour. The twigs shook, swayed, and rustled, the arrows flew out of them, and then the shutter came to.”

This piece makes the viewer draw their own conclusions. Just as the impressionism art had a focus on light and scenery, this literature piece had an attention to color. The narrator reports things, in this piece, as they are happening. This piece represents impressionism, in that it is a snapshot into the life of the character.
The art, music, and literature of the impressionism period had an overarching theme of a focus on emotions. The art of this time had a focus on light and on memories. These art pieces were snapshots in time that captured emotion. The art was about scenery and about human leisure. The music of this time focused on the emotions of the listener. It was calming and evoked the listener to respond. The literature of this time was about emotion and how the characters were feeling. There was no sense of chronological order which could connect the reader with how the character was feeling. Impressionism was not well liked from the beginning. Impressionistic artists had to create their own exhibitions. The art, music, and literature all led the way for future artists to represent themselves. It laid the foundation to sharing one's emotions with the viewer, listener, or reader. The impressionists helped post-impressionists use their art to represent their mind and soul.
I learned a lot from the impressionist period. One thing I learned is how the impressionism word came about. Impressionism came from people thinking this art of being more of an impression than of art. The impressionistic art seemed unfinished and seemed as if they were impressions of something. I also learned that artists used emotional landscapes in their works. Specifically in literature, the author would use the setting to evoke an emotional response from the reader. Finally, I learned how realistic impressionistic art was. This art was a snapshot from life and like a memory of the artist. I liked how realistic the art pieces were and I felt like I could really connect with them. I was a dancer for 15 years and I instantly recognized Claude Debussy's piece, Clair De Lune. I remember practicing ballet to this song and it brought back a lot of great memories. With me being a dancer, my favorite art piece was The Dance Class, by Edgar Degas. I really liked getting to pick pieces that represented me and that I found the most enjoyable. Impressionism truly represents realistic life and brings about emotions.
Credits and Acknowledgments


Created with images by wiloma - "bridge to starfire" • Unsplash - "paint brushes painting paint" • stevepb - "piano music score music sheet" • jarmoluk - "old books book old" • wiloma - "buttercups" • wiloma - "christie park"

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