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IWT Task 1
It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the relationship between two periods of art. The Realism period will be compared to the Impressionism period. Visual art will be the discipline compared.
A1. Earlier Historical Art Period
The Realism art period flourished from the mid 1800’s until the late nineteenth century. Its roots started in France after the Revolution of 1848. The monarchy of Louis-Philippe was defeated and the period of the Second Empire began. The French Realist period grew under Napoleon III’s rule. French artists such as Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet used their paintings as political statements. As the French society looked for democratic reform, the artists of the time depicted working class people doing their everyday jobs. Not only were Courbet’s portraits criticized for their simple and crude style, but also for the scale of the portraits that depicted the often mundane and impoverished lower class. Their goal was to depart from the former Romantic era and portray people and events truthfully and often, “in gritty detail” (Finocchio, 2004, p.1). The artist’s subjects were not posed, smiling out at the world but rather caught in the act of living. Often the subject’s clothes were torn and dirty, their faces tired and worn. Although Realism is often associated with France, it also influenced artists in Russia, England, Germany and the United States.
A2. Later Historical Art Period
The Impressionism Art Movement was launched in Paris, France in 1874. At this time Paris was newly renovated under the Emperor Napoleon III. Old buildings and those destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War were rebuilt. Consequently, Paris was a cleaner, safer city (Samu, 2004, p. 20). At this time, a group of artists organized an independent exhibit showcasing their work. They called themselves the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc. Although each artist had their own individual style, breaking away from the traditional portraiture preferred by the Paris Salon Exhibition unified them. The name Impressionism came from Claude Monet’s work, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). Impressionism art was characterized by short brush strokes and stressed the effects of light. The subject matter was often landscapes or scenes of modern day life. Bright colors were introduced during this period. These colors included vibrant shades of blue, green, and yellow (Samu, 2004, p.1). Impressionists brought painting to the outdoors. They showcased their personalities and emotions. The public was won over even though the established art critics disapproved.
A3. Relationship
Although there are some similarities between the Realism and Impressionism art movements, there are definitive differences.
A3a. Differences
Although both the Realism Movement and the later Impressionism Movement introduced innovated artistic styles, those styles were distinctive. Realism art continued the muted tones of the Romanticism Movement. Impressionist utilized brighter colors and played with light. Both movements moved away from historic subjects, religious themes and portraits. Realists emphasized the poor and humble working class. The Impressionists often chose leisurely pastimes as their subject matter. Favorite motifs were boating and bathing establishments (Samu, 2004, p. 1-2). The Realism artist used fine details whereas the Impressionism artist used short brush strokes to capture the heart of the subject instead of details. The emotions evoked from the Realism art were often empathy for the hardship and poverty of the working class. The Impressionism art brought emotions of light-heartedness, movement or introspection.
A3b. Explanation
The Realism Movement was introduced while France was in turmoil. The artists used their medium to bring attention and focus on Democratic reform. Gustave Courbet sought controversy and used his paintings to make political statements. The Impressionism style deviated from Realism’s political assertions. It used light and colors in innovated ways to suggest spontaneity and movement. It brought artists out of their studios and into the environment in an attempt to express their observations of nature. The Impressionists were also influenced by the gaining popularity of photography. Photos motivated them to capture a moment in time. Also, because they were unable to duplicate the realism of a photo, they chose to capture the emotions and perceptions of a scene instead (“Impressionism”, n.d., p. 4-5).
A4. Comparison of Works. A Burial at Ornans, by Gustave Courbet, 1849-50 and Impression, Sunrise, by Claude Monet, 1872 showcase the differences of the Realism Movement and the Impressionism Movement. A Burial at Ornans, is a large painting. It measures ten by twenty-two feet. Paintings of this proportion were previously reserved for historical or religious themes. The portrait captures a moment during the funeral of the artist’s great-uncle in September 1848. The ordinary citizens of the rural town of Ornans, France were the subjects of the painting. The people surround the interment. It includes clergy, town leaders, friends, family, children and even a passing dog. Its colors are dark and muted. The townspeople are not overcome with grief. The faces are not idealized. The painting does not depict a religious theme of redemption. It is simply a realistic view of an ordinary event in an ordinary town. It departed from the Romanticism period of art and it is said the public did not know what to make of it (“Courbet, Burial at Ornans-Smarthistory”,n.d.,video). Courbet stated, “The Burial at Ornans was in reality the burial of Romanticism” (A Burial at Ornans”, n.d., p.1). Impression, Sunrise depicts the port of Le Havre, France. It measures 19x26 inches. It is famous for giving the Impressionism movement its name. It shows 2 rowboats in the harbor. There are people in the small crafts but their images are indistinct. In the background are steamships and factories. The sun is an orange globe low on the horizon. Details are lacking. The painting’s goal is to show the emotions and feelings of a calm early morning on the water. Brush strokes are short and broken. Monet was innovative in the use of blues and greens and light to convey the impression of a landscape (Yurasits, n.d., p.1-2). Both works were pioneering in the art world. Both artists fought to depict art in ways personal and emotional. And both artists were criticized for departing from the standard. A Burial at Ornans introduced ordinary, working class people. Gustave Courbet showed the art world that he found them worthy of being the subject of a substantial work of art. Impression, Sunrise took a mundane scene and filled it with color and emotion. Although Courbet and Monet used different methods and styles in their art, they led the way in defining their respective art movements.
A5. Influence of Later Historical Art Period The Post-Impressionism Measure followed the Impressionism Measure from 1886 to 1914. Although the artists wanted to break away from the now conventional art measure known as Impressionism, they still utilized the same techniques such as the use of bold colors, the play of light, bold brush strokes and everyday subjects (Sandrine, 2013, p.1). According to Post Impressionism – Art 101 Basics, this new genre of artist took what they had learned from Impressionist artist and, “exaggerated it” (Gersh-Nesic, n.d., p.1). Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most well known Post-Impressionist artists. From studying his works, you can see the Impressionist influence of color and light. But, Van Gogh created a style all his own as did other Post-Impressionism artists
References
A burial at Ornans. (n.d.). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 22, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Burial_At_Ornan Courbet, Burial at Ornans – Smarthistory (Video file). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/courbet-burial-at-ornans.html Finocchio,R.(2004). Nineteenth-Century French Realism.Retrieved from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 website: www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rism/hd_rism/htm Gersh-Nesic, B. (n.d.). Post-impressionism-Art History Basic on Post-Imprssionism-Mid-1880s to Early 1900s.Retrieved February 22, 2014, from http://arthistory.about.com/od/modernarthistory/a/Post-Impressionism-Art-History-101-Basics.htm Impressionism. (n.d.). In Wikipedia, kthe free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 22, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism Samu, M. (2004). Impressionism:Art and Modernity. Retrieved from Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 website:http://www.metmuseum.org?toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm Sandrine (n.d.). How Van Gogh and Post-Impressionism Influenced Modern Art. Retrieved February 22, 2014, from http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/10/van-gogh-and-modern-art/ Yurasits,J. (n.d.). Analysis of Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise. Retrieved from blogs.longwood.edu/incite/2012/01/30/analysis-of-claude-monet’s-impression-sunrise

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