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An art movement that began in France, in the 1860's. The first of only eight Impressionist exhibitions was in 1874, at the very end of the actual stylistic period. It's a very loose term, as it applies to a wide range of dissimilar artists who had in common a progressive political view and some common techniques; they exhibited together in France. The most prominent names of the movement are Eduard Manet [the father of Parisian Avant-garde, who later disassociated himself from the movement], Paul Cezzane, Edgar Dega, Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, August Renoir and Alfred Sisley. This is art done for arts sake- for the need to innovate and create pure images, without imposing foreign values on them. They defied the romantic notions of an artist's importance to the work and the usual classic academic approach to painting.
At first the Impressionists were scorned in both the academic circles and by the critics. The lack of 'finishing touches'; the clean colors sitting side by side in order to produce a more truthful account of light reflection , the intensely small brushstrokes and the pale palette. This was a consciously non-intellectual, intuitive movement, attempting to give a unbiased presentation of the world, a fact that didn't sit well with many at the time. They were to be proved wrong, as this small movement would change the face of the painting and modern art in its entirety.
Greatly influenced by the invention of the camera, this group translated the cameras 'one-frame' compositions into paint, merely trying to create 'impressions' or reflections of reality, as captured within one fleeting moment. The camera could capture images that were gone from one moment to the next; it could cut images in half or freeze a single instant of motion. It didn't require the painstaking preparation time of any fine art medium. Seeing things as they really are, and not as we have been educated to see them in typical 'Salon' fashion was a new challenge for them. Science had taught them that color was not a natural phenomenon that derived directly from any one object, but was in actuality the reflection of natural sunlight off the object. This meant that reality around us was ever-changing, metamorphosing second by second, as the day advanced and the colors changed. Logically, subject matter for these artists would have to be in a natural, outdoor setting- and indeed a great number of them are landscapes or still life images. Images of daily pleasures abound- figures of men and women in pleasant activities against outdoor settings, painted in bright exuberant colors with great emphasis on composition and light.
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