Characteristics of Impressionism Art

Impressionism art is an emotional and dreamy style of painting dedicated to representing the impression of an image instead of its replica. Though initially viewed as a mockery of accepted art standards, many Impressionist works are now considered priceless masterpieces.

Impressionist Movement
The Impressionist movement was an organized revolt comprised of French painters challenging the accepted notions of high art. The movement is named after Impression: Sunset, a painting Claude Monet displayed in what is now considered the first Impressionist exhibit in 1874. Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas also participated in the exhibit.

The Impressionist movement was partially due to a new invention: the photograph. For centuries painters had worked to master techniques for the most realistic results possible. However, with cameras and photographs capable of producing exact replicas of an image, painters gained greater freedom. Artists were no longer the only means of recording an image and could choose to focus on something in their art besides realistic replication.

Characteristics of Impressionist Art

  • The brush strokes in Impressionist art are very distinctive. Traditional painting techniques dictated that the brush strokes should remain invisible so that the painting seems flawless and lifelike. Impressionist painters used large and visible strokes to help portray a dreamy and abstract mood. They created different textures, both visually and physically, with assorted colors layered together.
  • The lighting is often one of the most important focal points in Impressionist painting. Several Impressionist painters devoted entire series of paintings to a single object observed during different times of the day. Monet's haystacks are a perfect example of a dedication to lighting. Some pictures have haystacks flecked with gold and yellow streaks in the bright afternoon light while others have the stacks flecked with blue and black in the late afternoon light.
  • The lines in Impressionist art are often subtle and blurry. There may or may not be a defined break between one shadow and the next, which creates a foggy effect. However, Impressionists loved to play with lights and shadows. Many employed a combination of striking, solid lines with visible soft lines. The painting may have a sharp silhouette line filled with blurred shadow lines or a blurry background with a sharp foreground.
  • The colors in Impressionist art are fanciful, though not necessarily romanticized. The hues may reflect each tone found in the actual image, or the colors may be broken down into basic elements. For example, a traditional painter would portray the sun on the ground as a general, light, yellow haze in the grass color. An Impressionist would portray the contrasts in the suns rays on the ground, with some areas of the grass pure yellow, some part yellow, some light yellow and some devoid of all yellow.
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