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Impressionism: Great Art or Boring Artists With the Talent of a Third Grader Fooling Everyone

Impressionism was an art form that was popular late nineteenth century and let me tell you, it was pretty awful. Not all of it was absolutely terrible but, for every Claude Monet there seemed to be a dozen Mary Cassatts out there. In fact impressionism should have just been called “jocking Monet’s style” because that is basically what it was.

1024px-Claude_Monet,_Impression,_soleil_levant

The painting above is the painting that started the impressionist movement.  It is a Monet entitled Impression, Sunrise (1872 Paris).  When looking at the mix of simplistic brushstrokes and various shades of blue you get a feeling of calm in the morning.  I find the painting to be intriguing and whenever I look at it I find myself focusing on different things.  Sometimes its the waves in the bottom that are just singular brushstrokes.  Sometimes its smoke from the upper left of the painting that when looked at closely looks like scribbling with paint.  But, every time my eyes are drawn to something different and I am amazed that something this simple can convey so much and be so interesting.  And that is what impressionism was supposed to be.  Capturing a scene or an impression with a kind of simplistic painting style that did not try to hide or blend the brush strokes.  I think that this worked for Monet because he tended to focus primarily on scenery. Even when his paintings had people in them the main focus still seemed to be the scenery.  But, for every painting like the one above there are about a million that look like this:

Cassatt_Mary_At_the_Theater_1879

This is a painting by Mary Cassatt titled Lydia Leaning on her Arms (In a Theatre Box) (1879).  It doesn’t look simple or stripped down so that one can focus on the scene that is being depicted.  It looks like a color by numbers fiasco.  The facial features look like they were done by somebody that had never painted before in their life.  That’s how many of the impressionist works look.  And if the paintings weren’t like that then they were of just terrible subject matter.  Such as this:

640px-Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas_072

This is Edgar Degas’ Dancers at the Bar (1888 Paris).  I enjoy the art style itself.  But, the subject is terrible.  Women stretching?  Seriously?  Why not paint them tying their shoes?  It is just as mundane and uninteresting.  And that is what I think drives me away from impressionism the most.  After the Renaissance and classical period where they painted these dramatic depictions of gods and revolutions and ancient mythical tales the next step in the evolution of painting is Reading by Morisot (1873 Paris) which is a depiction of a lady sitting on the grass reading or Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1882 Paris) which looks like it is a painting of a bartender asking you for your drink order?  It’s just so boring.  Look at the next two paintings that I am going to present as an example of this.  The first is:

1024px-David-Oath_of_the_Horatii-1784

Oath of the Horatii (1782 France) by Jacques-Louis David.  Look at the subject matter of the painting, a fight between two sets of three brothers to end a war.  Women are fainting.  The babies are being shielded from the battle.  One brother watches as his other brothers are slain only to be inspired by their deaths to make a surprising comeback and defeat the other set of brothers and win the war.  Epic.  Timeless.  Now compare that to this:

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This is Plum Brandy (1877 Paris) by Edouard Manet.  This painting is so dull, lifeless, and boring that even the lady in the painting looks bored.  I believe the French call it ennui.  This encapsulates my impression of impressionism.  One man (Monet) with a different idea of how and what to paint and bunch of talentless wannabes that trying to copy him by painting a bunch of boring scenes and failing to varying degrees.

Impression, Sunrise.  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism#mediaviewer/File:Claude_Monet,_Impression,_soleil_levant.jpg

Lydia Leaning on Her Arms (In a Theatre Box)  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism#mediaviewer/File:Cassatt_Mary_At_the_Theater_1879.jpg

Dancers at the Bar.  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism#mediaviewer/File:Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas_072.jpg

Oath of the Haratii.  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_the_Horatii

Plum Brandy.  The National Gallery of Art.  https://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/gg86/gg86-53034.html

Edouard Manet.  Encyclopedia Britannica.  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/361791/Edouard-Manet/4547/Later-life-and-works?anchor=ref184393

Welcome to Claude Monet’s.  http://giverny.org/monet/welcome.htm

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4 thoughts on “Impressionism: Great Art or Boring Artists With the Talent of a Third Grader Fooling Everyone

  1. Not to be rude, but I found your blog a little offensive. Even if you don’t like an art form or enjoy it aesthetically, there is such thing as art appreciation. Your blog post is almost like when you get in a fight with a toddler and they just call mean names. Impressionism is a form of art that can be appreciated for its realistic tones and brush stroke features. I am not an artist, and although it may look simplistic, I wouldn’t be able to pull it off; and I almost bet you wouldn’t be able to either. Not only can Impressionism be appreciated for its realistic tones, but it was an innovative style that brought forth nature and the appreciation of moments or fleeting glances. Your aesthetic comments about the pieces you posted are almost contradictory to your other paragraphs, as well.
    Take Plum Brandy by Edouard Manet for instance, aren’t you curious, where is she, a cafe? What is she thinking? There is more going on in that history than you or I can assume, and that makes the piece special. I think you might be able to learn a little bit about what Impressionism did for art in general by reading: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm.

  2. Your analysis was interesting and when you said you didn’t really like the style I would agree with you in the visual matter. I believe the point of impressionism is not to leave you visually stunned by the detail but to leave you wondering as to what this simplistic image is trying to show and that is where I find myself appreciating impressionism.

  3. Wow, this blog actually caught my attention right away. It doesn’t seem like you are just going along with the assignment, but you are taking it to the next level and simply laying out your opinions point-blank, and I really enjoy seeing people do that. Sometimes art is a little weird and unappealing to the eye and I’m sitting here like “why do people find this awesome?” But then again most work you look at and wonder how the artist accomplished such a thing. For instance how you mentioned the forms made by small pain strokes that Monet included into his art work, it definitely has you looking at a lot of different things. I wonder this same thing as well when I look at his work, what other messages could he possibly have been trying to convey? His art style is so detailed and color schemes are very misleading to the eye from different distances, but they create wonderful works of art.

  4. I found that your analysis of the style was a bit harsh. I do agree that the second painting was very bad, especially with the eyes. However, just because there are some bad artists, doesn’t mean that all but the original are bad. I actually enjoyed the third painting, even though it had a boring subject. Paintings are made to be something that are nice to look at, and this is. I really liked the colors. I enjoy most impressionist work that I can tell what is being depicted, so I agree with all that you said about the first painting. It is very good. I always had praises about the fourth painting, as I have now featured it in two of my blogs. Also, I will agree that the last painting is bad. I do not enjoy looking at it, especially as my eyes fall upon the subject’s eyes. They are very bad again, and it does not have a good subject.Thanks for your honesty and opinion though. Even though we didn’t see eye to eye, it is nice to see someone else’s view on this style.

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