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Born out of the artists' desire to break away from the canons of the Academy, French Impressionist artists Manet, Monet, and Renoir explored contemporary subjects and scenes in new and experimental ways. Major contributions of the Impressionists include painting everyday life, they choice to paint en plein air, outdoors, instead of in the studio and most importantly, the fleeting effects of light on a particular subject. These "impressions" of light became the primary subject matter, especially for Monet. On the bridge between Realism and Impressionism is Edouard Manet. Born in Paris in 1832, he preferred a more classical approach to painting. However, his subject matter in paintings such as Le Dejeuner Sur L'herbe and Olympia gave him the reputation as a nonconformist. Manet places the Olympia we see in classical paintings in a contemporary setting rather than an allegorical one and she looks directly at the viewer. The refusal of the salon to show these paintings earned him the dubious title, "Father of Impressionism". Claude Monet is best known for his paintings of his garden at Giverny. In the 1890's he began to build a water garden around his house. There he painted his famous water lily paintings. By 1909 he had conceptualized an idea for a vast project of water lily canvases that would envelop an entire room. From 1916 almost until his death he worked on these canvases. He spoke of this endeavor, "In the night I am constantly haunted by what I am trying to realize. I rise broken with fatigue every morning." In these canvases perspective is reduced to the water lilies floating on the surface of the water. At ART in a Click browse are many images of these wonderful paintings. Pierre Auguste Renoir's painting, Le Moulin de la Galette is a study in impressionism. The scene is of working class people enjoying the leisure of a Sunday afternoon. The artist set up an easel right near the location and painted from life. Renoir was especially concerned with the play of light and shadow as they danced across the surface of an object. The fondness for impressionism exists today because these images capture forever the changing moments of time that we can all relate to in our contemporary world.Portraits
Before the advent of the camera, portraits were created to have an historic record of a person or event. A portrait is usually a pictorial representation of an individual. In the hands of a gifted artist it becomes a means to convey something about the person through objects and ideas. At ART in a Click we feature many important portrait artists. Rembrandt was one of the first artist's to capture the inner essence of the sitter. It is in these psychological profiles, particularly his self-portraits, that we begin to understand the artist. Primitive portraits give us a glimpse of life in the early 19th Century. Although we do not know who painted the portraits there is often a record of the date and the sitters. Unlike the traditional portraiture of the day these folk art paintings are of ordinary people. The compositions, most often of children, include favorite objects, costumes of the day and detailed backgrounds. When the camera was invented to record the likeness of an individual, artists sought to use portraiture as a vehicle for expression. French painter Henri Matisse's portraits of his wife are experiments in Fauve. Pablo Picasso's cubist inventions had experiments in portraiture as well. In Girl Before a Mirror, Seated Woman and The Dream we understand the flattening of cubist space as all of the facial features are visible simultaneously. Perhaps one of the best known portrait is Van Gogh Self-Portrait with Bandaged ear. In this painting and in the portait of his friend the postman Roulin, Van Gogh achieves the ultimate goal of portraiture, to teach us about the artist and the sitter and most importantly about ourselves. Today our fascination with celebrities has made images of Elvis, Marilyn and The Beatles icons of popular culture.
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