Wednesday, January 12, 2011

sec 2 BT2

Impressionism was known to be a revolutionary art movement in the 19th century. With reference to a named work by Monet, identify four ways in which he has radically departed from tradition.

Monet painted 'Impression: sunrise', which earned the Impressionists their name. It was exhibited in the Impressionists' first exhibition in 1874.

As commented by the critics at that time, 'Impression: sunrise' shows a mere sketch of the subject matter. It is an artwork at its 'embryonic stage'. This suggests that unlike the traditional works, such as those of the Romantic and the Neo-classical movements, the details in the painting are eliminated. The sunrise is depicted by a mass of colors, blue and oranges, and is very unclear. This contrasts with the traditional perfection of the photographic appearance in artworks, whereby on can tell distinctly from one feature to the next. As suggested by its name, 'Impression: sunrise' is only an impression of the subject matter and thus the eliminated details and simplified forms.

In contrast with traditional art, Monet rejected historical, mythical and religious themes, as shown in 'Impression: sunrise', he painted a landscape of the sunrise and the waters rather tan scenes from bibles or myths. This suggests that he only painted what he can see and what is presented in front of him, in this case, a sunrise, rather than those of the imagination and supernatural.

The brushstrokes used by Monet in 'Impression: sunrise' also differs greatly to that of the traditional art. In Neo-classicism, the emphasis is placed on the lines and brushwork to be photographic and invisible. It imitates that of nature and is a replica of the subject matter being portrayed. In 'Impression: sunrise' however, the brushstrokes are painterly and visible. They are not mixed but placed side by side to be fused by the eye from a distance. These pure colors are applied in impasto onto canvas to suggest the fleeting effects and qualities of light on the subject matter, in this case, the rippled water. There is also minimal outlines to depict the forms, but the artwork was painted with a series of colors and left for the viewers to distinguish the various forms and objects being portrayed.

Monet's ultimate aim in art is not to replicate nature for photography was already invented then. His aim is to produce the fleeting effects of light and color on the surfaces of the subject matter, foliage or figures. Therefore, paint is applied loosely and rapidly, creating a rough texture on the canvas. The colors are also more spontaneous and bright. In traditional artworks, however, the artists wanted to replicate the beliefs or thoughts and to imitate nature. This results in the carefully controlled brushwork. Art is about perfection in traditional context, therefore, the traditional artworks are carefully planned and artificially arranged, unlike Monet's snap-shot composition in 'Impression: sunrise' where the forms are casually placed as if captured by chance.

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