Submitted By tommurdoch
Words: 2937
Pages: 12

“Modernist Artists interpreted their subject matter by focusing on colour, light and atmosphere” This quote, in its simplicity, reflects the movement of the “Modernist Artists”, whom emerged within the 19th century, rejected the conventional themes of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, being inspired with revolutionary ideas born of the rapidly changing world they lived in. They were considered as “avant-garde”, meaning they were now at the forefront of artistic thinking, where bold emotions, colour and light were their weapon against the traditional. These emerging masters captured their art “by focusing on colour, light and atmosphere”, expressing an “impression” of the ever present vivid spectrum that surrounded them, attempting to capture the harmony that light had on colour, and the impermanence of an often simple but beautiful scene. This quote reflects the art period known as “French Impressionism”, a French originated movement starting late 1860’s-1890’s, which no longer conformed to the traditional - but embraced the modern. Within this period, Claude Monet (1840-1926) a “Modernist Artist”, was arguably the most prominent figure of this movement, and whose paintings most directly represented the ideals of
Impressionism, in which he would capture the fleeting effects of light, so to delicately bring to life ordinary scenes “by focusing on colour, light and atmosphere” to transport and captivate his viewers.
As it suggests, French Impressionism originated no other than France, specifically in Paris, as many of the most recognizable artist of this period were Parisian. France was in the grip of the Second Empire, led by Napoleon III, and his oppressive and often ego-centrical leadership led to his failure to control and comprehend foreign policy leading to the subsequent outbreak of war across numerous French held territories and retaliation from foreign powers. Impressionism occurred during the time of the FrancoPrussian War, a devastating period of German Unification in which the threat of Prussia's proximity was the main catalyst for French involvement. France subsequently lost, which led an occupation of French territory such as Paris. This period caused the many artist and other citizens to flee France at the risk of persecution, Monet included. However, 19th Century France also proved to be the hub of rapid urbanization and redevelopment. Impression coincided with the Industrial Revolution, which saw the advancement of both technology and the overall social cohesion of European society. While the revolution was not as influential in France than it was in England, railroads, trains, steam power, electricity, and more efficient factories strengthened the French economy, and also saw an emerging middle class enter the social mainframe. The overarching affect on France, as on Europe were that new innovative technology were developed, classes shifted, wealth increased, and nations began assuming bold, nationalistic identities. One man that led the French into this period of innovation and urbanization was
Baron Haussaman, the Prefect of the Seine Department in France. The prosperity that flowed from the war gave Napoleon the financial ability to carry out his grand plan. Through his process of Urban renewal,
Haussmans priority was given to widening of the streets (known as “Boulevards”) in order to cater for the growing population, and creating a more linear and spacious outlook for the city. Adjacent suburbs were seized and connected to Paris, leading to large buildings, avenues, circular roads, trans-suburban routes, and instillation of parks and the famous Parisian bars and cafes. However this revitalization came at a price; ghettos and slums were stripped and cleared, and their people left displaced, often without compensation. But it was this change to the Parisian landscape that lead to new forms of entertainment and leisure. The wide boulevards gave Parisians the chance to “promènade” (French for “to walk”) strutting…