Impressionism and post impressionism refer to artistic ways arising from the late 19th century in France.
Impressionism, a 19th century art movement, came from Paris-based artists who had independent exhibitions during the 1870s and 1880s. Impressionists painted contemporary recreation, instead of capturing the past/historical narrative in their inspiration. They drew on transitory times and emphasized on fleeting light, atmosphere and movements. These paintings were quite small with seeable brush strokes. They had ordinary subject matter, and the aspect of movement was extremely crucial. Post impressionism describes the reaction against impressionism during that period. It got started by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin and George Seurat. This movement rejected impressionism’s emphasis on naturalistic use of light and color. However, post impressionistic artists still emphasized on artificial pictures. This shows that post impressionists considered impressionism but rejected the limitations. They still used thick paint, distinct brush strokes and common subject matter. Both movements consist of some of the most famous paintings of the modern art such as Monet’s and van Gogh’s works.
The Goose girl at Montfoucault and The Rocks
The following is an analysis of two paintings done by different artists around the same era. They contain clear differences and likeness even though they were created thirteen years apart. The first painting is The Goose girl at Montfoucault, White Frost, by Camille Pissarro. It was created in the year 1875 (It represents the life of a country with the common, ordinary real life situation.). The other painting was The Rocks, created by Vincent van Gogh in the year 1888 (It features a relief like environment of blue, green and gold brush strokes.). The following essay explains the stylistic changes contained in the shift from impressionism to post impressionism according to the two paintings. The first painting conforms to the movement of impressionism while the second one denotes the post impressionism.
The Goose Girl at Montfoucault contains typical characteristics of an impressionistic nature. It represents a countryside scene, where a girl figure, next to a group of domestic geese, seems to be in the center of a natural ordinary setting. The characters in this painting describe a typical day in the countryside. The remarkable subject that can be drawn from this painting is that impressionists no longer bothered with the inclusion of historical aspects in their art works. In their paintings, impressionist artists referred to daily routines and common/ordinary characters (unlike the traditional paintings). In this painting, the brush strokes are rough and noticeably large. When one looks at the painting closely, he/she may realize that the figures in the drawing show vibration of colors and the use of contrasting shades. The viewers’ perception seems to be inclined towards the human senses. The artist used subjects that were drawn from his own surroundings. A subject remained the representation of nature as exhibited by the painting. The quality of light was emphasized by its different variations used in this painting. The light and color variation play a significant role in the fashion of the era. The landscape in this painting seems to record a certain season of the year and time of day. The focal point seems to be on the girl. The artist put more emphasis on the tree which remains a main object that shows the season of the year. The season seems to be autumn (the transition between winter and summer) because clearly the leaves were falling off and had changed their color too. The scene seems to be in early fall since the geese are still in her care and they have not flown to a warmer climate. The suave palette shows the mood that the autumn scene tries to denote. The quiet shades remained to show the viewers the silence of the country life. The artist seems to be capable of distinguishing different textures to denote grass, foliage, wood, stone etc. The texture of objects is more about materiality of pain rather than that of the object represented. The object of interest is not far from the scene. The artist drew the tree, the girl and the geese at the same place in the landscape. In this impressionistic painting, the artist conveyed a sense of depth. According to a spectator, the girl and the geese vary in size which gives the painting a sense of depth. Through the use of optical illusions (instead of using detailed drawing lines), she managed to create shapes and volumes. In her work, Pissarro used colors discreetly and leaned towards balanced combinations and pastel shades. The painting consists of a human character that plays a minor role in the scene. The presence of a human figure (the lady in the painting) gives a sense of life and civilization to the landscape. Her identity remains hidden and unclear, meaning that it is not essential.
The Rocks painting contains typical characteristics of a post impressionistic nature. In this artwork, the post impressionist style seems to make nature conform to the van Gogh’s vision. The painting depicts Montmajour in the South of France, rocky terrain found few miles north of Arles. Painting this landscape was difficult because of the strong winds that swept through this area. These winds whipped violently against the canvasses that Vincent van Gogh used. This painting had a creamier sky that remained marked with a touch of different colors (yellow and pink). The artist seems to be looking up the scene, to see the rocks above his sitting position. The rocks seem to be on flat ground, and beyond the rocks, one may locate the creamy sky. This explains the position that the landscape view point takes. It seems to be characterized by the use of heavy brushstrokes which moved in different directions. The use of such heavy brushstrokes made the grass, plants and tree move in an illusion of a breezy day. In the rocks landscape, a few straight lines had to be used, and some got curved slightly to show the image of a constant movement of foliage and to the curvature of the weathered rock. The painting used thick paint in different shades of yellow, green, off-white and navy blue. He hardly used black color (which had remained an art technique of the original impressionist). Van Gogh worked with dark blue to show the Mediterranean Sea, as well as green and mustard color for foliage. There was no focal point expressed by the use of the brushstrokes in The Rocks. Just like in The Goose Girl, van Gogh seems to be quite close to the rock. Although he may have been close to the scenery, there exists no expressed sense of depth in the painting. There could be a cliff hanging out over the sea on the other side of the rock. There exists a body of water on both sides of the rock. It remains difficult to estimate how far the coast truly is due to the size of water-body in the area.
Between the two paintings (The Goose Girl and The Rocks), there exists a progression from the impressionism and the post impressionism. On one side, there remain similarities of blurred lines and juxtaposed colors. However, there is a difference in how each artist used these aspects in a different line. Pissarro’s use of lines brought attention to a certain figure or area of the landscape (as witnessed in The Goose Girl painting). Vincent van Gogh used lines differently, and some were curvaceous to bring out the sense of movement in various features of his painting (as seen in The Rocks). These two paintings still exhibit a painting where impressionism style and techniques exist. It consists of loose brushstrokes, bright colors and a desire to paint something as it is. It brings out a painting at its most basic, fleeting and raw qualities. Impressionists opposed academic tradition in the French art and emphasized on contemporary subjects. They used sketch-like techniques and painted in the open air using pure, high-keyed color. Both impressionism and post impressionism denote extremely influential art movements which came up in the 19th century. The artists painted modern landscapes and scenes of contemporary life, especially in leisure and recreational aspects. During the 1880s, impressionism started affecting the art of the Salon. Great painters found money-wise success by making their palettes bright while maintaining the smooth finish found in the Salon art. Impressionism shifted to post impressionism when several artists developed different use of line, color, pattern and form. These artists seemed slightly younger than the earlier impressionists. Both impressionism and post impressionism remain exemplified by the impressionist Camille Pissarro’s The Goose Girl at Montfoucault, White Frost; and post impressionist Vincent van Gogh’s The Rocks, Houston.