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Art Movement in Focus : What is Impressionism?

What is Impressionism

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history, through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at What is Impressionism.

Impressionism is an art movement that originated in Paris, in the 1860s. Paris had been the centre of art in Europe and the French Academy was where every artist wanted to be – to study, to teach and to exhibit.

The Academy had strict standards and guidelines as to what qualified as good art. The artists who complied were allowed to exhibit with them, and resultantly became famous. The artists who chose not to comply were simply left at the mercy of the volatile art market and consumer tastes and preferences.

For most part, the Academy dictated that the most superior form of painting was that which was rooted in history and mythology. Further, painters were required to perfect their brushwork, study light and colour so as to make paintings that the Academy deemed worthy. Amidst all the restrictions put on art, there were a few artists who despised the Academy and the stronghold it held over the arts. So, they created art independent of any restrictions and held their own independent exhibitions, apart from the Salon.

In 1874, Claude Monet exhibited his celebrated Impression. Painting depicted a sunrise with blurs of colour over the horizon and heavy impasto that looked like wet paint. A critic attending the exhibition deemed the painting an unfinished ‘impression’, thus inadvertently giving Monet and artists like him a name for their movement – Impressionism.


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