Impressionism, developed in France, is a 19th century art movement based on the artist’s ability to use very fine and thin, yet visible brush strokes, normal subject matter, and abnormal visual angles. Main impressionist subjects were landscapes and scenes of normal, everyday life. Impressionism was developed by Claude Monet and several other French artists from the 1860’s. Back then, the artists realized that they could capture the brief and transient effects of sunlight by working fast in open air, right in front of their subjects, instead of in a studio. This caused great awareness of the light, color, and shifting pattern of the natural scene. The strokes became rapid and broken into separate dabs in order to provide the momentary quality of light. There are many artists often associated with the movement, and here are the most popular.
Claude Monet, also known as the father and most representative painter of Impressionism, was a key figure in the movement that transformed French art. Monet is the most famous and well known impressionist painter. Throughout his successful career, Monet consistently painted the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its surroundings. Monet found subjects in his everyday life, and was known for painting people and places that were familiar to him. His first and second wives frequently posed as models for him. Monet was often described as the “driving force behind Impressionism.” His massive career was spent in the pursuit of understanding the effects of light on different objects. In 1926, Monet passed away from cancer. Today, his work lives on and is loved by people all over the world.
Edgar Degas was a French painter and sculptor who is considered to be a major representative of Impressionism. He was known for his innovative composition and his perspective analysis of motion. Even though he was unique with his ideas, he was one of the most active organizers of the Impressionist movement. Degas studied painting at the School of Fine Arts and his favorite subjects to paint were horse races, cafe scenes, and contemporary portraits. Degas went totally blind in 1911 and had to completely stop painting. He ended up dying in 1917 at the age of 83. Today, he is still recognized for his 2,000 paintings he produced throughout his career.
Henri Matisse was a French artist who was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but was mainly known as a painter. Matisse, heavily influenced by art from other cultures, is recognized as the greatest colorist of the 20th century. He appeared as a Post-Impressionist and first achieved fame as the leader of another French movement, Fauvism. Matisse’s work was important in validating the value of decoration in modern art. During the last years of his life, Matisse was confined to a wheelchair which made painting difficult. This resulted in him using a cut-out technique where he created shapes of paper with scissors, which he ten arranged using a long stick. He called this technique “painting with scissors.” Matisse passed away in 1954 at the age of 84, and long after his death, his paintings are still being admired and sold for large amounts.
Mary Cassatt was one of very few women Impressionism artists that painted images of the social and private lives of women. She particularly liked to depict the intimate bonds that mothers shared with their children. Cassat was actually heavily influenced by the work of Edgar Degas. Both experimented a great deal with the use of materials, using distemper and metallic paints in many of their pieces. Cassatt became very skilled at using pastels, and went on to use them in many of her most important works. Cassat was also known to do portraits of important people, especially her family members. The 1980’s were Cassatt’s most creative and productive years, as she became a role model for young American artists looking for advice. Cassat died in 1926 in Paris, and her legacy is being an inspiration to many Canadian women artists who looked up to her. Her work is still being reproduced, honored, and sold worldwide.
As an artist and someone who prides themself on studying impressionist artists, all of these artists’ work speaks for itself. If you’ve never heard of at least one of these artists, you might as well have been sleeping under a rock for the last two hundred years or so. I eat, sleep, and breathe art pieces, especially by the artists mentioned above. When I am not reading about, viewing, or creating my own art, you can find me challenging my mind on stars casino or Web sudoku. However, there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading about famous artists, going to art museums, and making unique pieces of art, myself.