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[P]
Degas and realism

By jeroenb in Culture
Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 11:06:01 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is one of the great pioneers of impressionism, even though he did not approve of the term himself. A look at one of his famous works, L'Absinthe (1876), can perhaps provide some insight into the differences and similarities between works of other impressionists and his.


Like nearly all other impressionist works, L'Absinthe wouldn't stand a chance at being displayed at Le Salon, France's annual, official art show of that time. Its jury was exclusively interested in promoting traditional art. The show was a very important event because it was the place to gain public recognition and as a result have works commissioned by the French government.

The impressionists didn't like traditional art, or at least they felt the urge to create different works. At the same time they required an interested audience to appreciate their works so they could make a living. Instead of going back to traditional art, they organized their own exhibitions. In 1874 a group of artists, among them Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas, held their first independent exhibition. Even though it was not a big success, some of the visitors were interested in seeing more and even buying some works.

Eight exhibitions were organized between 1874 and 1886 and Degas participated in all but one of them even though he was unhappy with the name impressionist. Instead he called himself a realist, referring to his works being based on his own experiences and observations instead of the traditional mythological and religious scenes that were usually the subject of art. This was true for all members of the impressionist movement though, so this might have been nothing more than a semantic discussion about whether the word "impressionism" conveys the meaning of the artists' intentions accurately.

But it was more than that. The impressionists were typically painting outside so they could maximize the influence of the sunlight to capture an occasional scene in relation to the time of day and the current atmosphere. An example of this is Monet's Impression: soleil levant (1873), the work responsible for the term impressionism being coined by one of the critics visiting the first exhibition. Degas used the same basic techniques to paint, but his goal was not to capture the atmosphere or some other highly subjective aspects of a scene. Instead he used the quick painting technique to render complex perspectives, such as in L'Etoile (1876-77).

Degas was a typical impressionist in continuing Delacroix' concept of colors being a vital and equal part of painting just as proportion and perspective. The impressionists take this even further by making color perhaps the most important part of their works. They didn't just use color to finish their original painting, they make it a dominant part by using primarily colored patches to create shapes. This is the most characteristic feature of impressionism and its most distinguishing feature.

This brings us to Degas' L'Absinthe (1876). Over the years there's been quite some confusion surrounding this painting, the reason (and explanation) for this lies in the difference between Degas and other impressionists described earlier. First of all, it's not a particularly happy scene without much color. The persons depicted, actress Ellen Andree and engraver Marcellin Desboutin, are friends of Degas. Why would Degas use his friends to create such a sad and awkward scene? Was he trying to say something about the dangers of Absinthe, a drink usually containing 70+ percent alcohol? If so, then why is the man in the picture drinking black coffee instead of Absinthe as well?

Degas was interested in painting a scene the way he had seen and experienced it, not making it either pretty or ugly. The other impressionists were known to put their personal feelings toward a scene they painted clearly into their work (for example, Jeune filles au piano (1892) by Renoir in which everything looks radiant) and since Degas was referred to as a member of this group, critics naturally sought an explanation for this depiction of two persons sitting soberly at a table. During an exhibition in London in 1893, the subjects were considered degraded and the picture as a whole as shocking. Nothing could be further from the truth. But it does explain and confirm that Degas was not strictly an impressionist but more of a combination between impressionist and realist.

Main sources:
Degas and the Dance, Kendall & De Vonyar, ISBN: 0810932822, Amazon.
Art History, Stokstad, ISBN: 0130123196, Amazon.
History of Art, Janson & Janson, ISBN: 0131833316, Amazon.
Ibiblio Degas Webmuseum for the L'Absinthe picture.

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Poll
Favourite impressionist?
o Renoir 9%
o Monet 29%
o Degas 18%
o Pissarro 0%
o Cezanne 9%
o Sisley 3%
o Morisot 1%
o Other 29%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o impression ism
o L'Absinthe (1876)
o Impression : soleil levant (1873)
o L'Etoile (1876-77)
o Absinthe
o Jeune filles au piano (1892)
o Amazon
o Amazon [2]
o Amazon [3]
o Ibiblio Degas Webmuseum
o Also by jeroenb


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Degas and realism | 49 comments (43 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Yes. (1.62 / 8) (#7)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 06:17:51 AM EST

So what?

Do you have something you want to say?

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Just something I wanted to show :) (none / 0) (#8)
by jeroenb on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 06:43:06 AM EST

So if you clicked the link to the painting and perhaps thought about it a bit, I've achieved my goal.

--
"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]
I did (none / 0) (#9)
by ph317 on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 07:59:30 AM EST


It was quite thought provoking, thank you.

[ Parent ]
I just thought it was me (none / 0) (#10)
by seeS on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 08:08:06 AM EST

After a long day... At the end of it, its a case of well ok but whats the point. Bring Back Tex
--
Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?
[ Parent ]
It's like painting. (none / 0) (#44)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:14:21 PM EST

Your first painting isn't likely to be Starry Night. Takes practice. Just ask Tex.

He did get a couple of nibbles, so his trolling wasn't completely in vain.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Don't worry (none / 0) (#18)
by The Jews on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 11:12:44 AM EST

I'll write an article about the gnotstic plot of covertly promoting homosexuality in Russia. I expect a full +1 FP!

You call these bagels?
[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#19)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 12:57:39 PM EST

I'm kind of busy at the moment, murdering Jewish babies and making matresses out of their hair.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#20)
by tkatchev on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 01:00:30 PM EST

I'm kind of busy at the moment, murdering Jewish babies and making matresses out of their hair.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I'd read it... (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by UltraNurd on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 08:32:43 AM EST

...but I'm an uncultured swine, so I abstain.

--
"Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
-Hide The Hamster

You can change that, you know. (none / 0) (#34)
by monkeymind on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:44:00 AM EST

But, only if you want to. Your choice, no pressure, no judgement.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

Purty pictures (4.40 / 5) (#12)
by farmgeek on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 08:59:12 AM EST

That's all they are to me, seriously.

But I like pretty pictures, I find them to be quite soothing.

I liked the L`Etoile pice better though, it's quite beautiful.  Thanks for showing it to me.

That's all they are sometimes (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by niku on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 03:56:08 AM EST

This is something quite a few people see. Normally, the reaction from the more "cultured" people is a sad shake of the head, or something like "If you spend the time to look, you can see the deeper meanings. It might take a while, but it's worth it." Nope. sorry, not always. Granted, there are some people who create really thought provoking, intelligent art that with meanings, or messages. On the other hand, there were lots of art teachers who teach how to make it look like there is a meaning, or a message, and in effect "trick" the viewer.

Sometimes, as freud said "a cigar is just a cigar." This is just a true in art as it is in psychology. I've shown publicly, and have overheard people talking about the meanings of what I've created, meanwhile, I'm standing a little of to the side thinking "It's just a picture of a homeless guy I saw in amsterdam who had a really interesting face."

Anyway, to stop blathering on, a good amount of the time, all the painting is supposed to be is a pretty picture. If you like it, great. If not, oh well. Same as music. Some songs are very meaningfull, others are just decorations, the way the top 40 is usually pleasant (to some) background noise.

As a side note, as an artist, and an engineer, I really wish more engineering types went to galleries. Engineers usually can see bad logic a mile away, and you should hear some of the bullsh*te passed off by some of the curators. :)



--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
[ Parent ]
Same here (none / 0) (#28)
by jeroenb on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 05:07:20 AM EST

As a software developer that got interested in art history, I fully agree with the bad logic often associated with the interpretation of art. At the same time, I'm not sure if the exact mathematical logic can be applied to human expression, so there's also a possibility that the logic engineers are used to simply doesn't always apply in the realm of art. At the same time, in order to draw acceptable conclusions, you do need some kind of philosophical basis - so I'm not saying we should abandon logic altogether :)

And about people interpreting works (differently than you intended it), artists have varying views on these practices. For instance Mark Rothko rejected all interpretations of his works claiming that the experience every single viewer had with one of his works were the correct personal interpretations. At the same time Barnett Newman (also from the New York School) claimed that it was the artist's task to show a single vision and that failing to do so for every viewer was a failure of the artist.

--
"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]

People draw and paint (none / 0) (#43)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:11:51 PM EST

For the same reasons they water ski, play baseball, dance, etc. Because it's enjoyable to do, and if you're god, and lucky, you might make a few bucks at it.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Interpretations (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by driptray on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 07:04:03 AM EST

I don't agree that it ever is "just purty pictures". There's gotta be a reason why somebody made that picture, and if the viewer likes it, there'll undoubtedly be a reason why. Speculating on those reasons is not pretentious bullshitting, it's fun!

Your homeless guy with the "interesting" face - why is his face interesting? What does that tell us about you? Sure, we'll never know, but just because you have not consciously examined the reasons why you thought it would be good to paint that face and not some other face doesn't mean there aren't reasons behind the decision. And it's fun and interesting to speculate on those reasons.

I do agree that art criticism tends to take itself too seriously most of the time though.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

Could just be interesting to draw (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by niku on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 05:33:52 PM EST

There's gotta be a reason why somebody made that picture, and if the viewer likes it, there'll undoubtedly be a reason why.

Of course there is a reason that someone made the picture, but it does not have to be a meaningfull reason. Often times, I will draw something at random, as an exercise. The reason I drew it was to ensure that I keep my ability to sketch well and draw things that I don't normally draw. This might be picking a page in a magazine at random, or saying, I'm going to draw the first person I see sitting down at the airport. Who knows, maybe one of those will turn out *really* well and I'll want to show it.

Speculating on those reasons is not pretentious bullshitting, it's fun!

If you changed the above statement to : Speculating on those reasons is not always pretentious bullshitting, it's fun! I would completely agree with you.

As for the specific picture of the old homless man, I the clothes that he was wearing had a lot of texture, and so did his face. He had an oddly shaped scruffy beard and a very weather beaten face. Some people are just better to draw than others. If people want to read something into that, then that's fine, but if they are trying to interpret what "I mean" by the peice, then in this particular peice there would not be a correct answer.



--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
[ Parent ]
There could be! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by jeroenb on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 05:43:17 PM EST

As for the specific picture of the old homless man, I the clothes that he was wearing had a lot of texture, and so did his face. He had an oddly shaped scruffy beard and a very weather beaten face. Some people are just better to draw than others. If people want to read something into that, then that's fine, but if they are trying to interpret what "I mean" by the peice, then in this particular peice there would not be a correct answer.

For instance, what is your obsession with rich and complicated textures? Why does the oddly shaped beard signify something interesting to you while to most it would probably be annoying (people tend to dislike a lack of symmetry)?

The fact that you are not aware of your personal preferences and their underlying causes, explanations and related conclusions, doesn't mean they can't exist.

I'm not saying that if you look deep enough you'll always find some complicated autobiographical or rethorical explanation, just that randomness is not always as random as you might think.



--
"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]
The same instructor also often said (none / 0) (#42)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:10:32 PM EST

"I don't know what I like, but I know what art is."

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

An instructor of mine (none / 0) (#41)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:08:23 PM EST

was fond of saying, abiout particularly busy paintings, "there's less here than meets the eye."


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

too... un-photo-realistic! (3.75 / 4) (#13)
by dimaq on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 09:32:19 AM EST



emergence of Impressionism (5.00 / 3) (#14)
by khallow on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 10:01:37 AM EST

One of the things that has always interested me here is why Impressionism came about. I've heard two theories. First, that ambitious young painters couldn't advance well under the old regime. Ie, it was easier to create a new movement and gain recognition and fame that way. What's particularly relevant is that a prime source of money for the old art was the French government. Hence, if one took the risks and became an impressionist, then they forsook (at least for a while) government comissions. Hence, rebels had an easier time of it.

The second theory is that photography had by the advent of Impressionism stolen much of the portrait market. Suddenly, the old bread and butter no longer existed. You couldn't rely on portrait painting to make a living since a photograph was much more accurate, timely, and had sharper detail. Impressionism was a first step to competing with photography.

It's interesting that a few decades later, Impressionism was the orthodoxy and Cubism became the rebel. These days, there seems to be a greater agreement between visual arts and its sophisticated, paying audience. Ie, if you're a good artist of any genre with nice work, then someone will buy it. The current changes seem more due to changes in medium (eg, computer graphics) rather than political or philosophical in nature.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Photography (none / 0) (#21)
by jeroenb on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 02:02:35 PM EST

Personally I don't think that relatively small grayscale photographs would be a direct threat to portrait painting. Still I believe photography was of huge influence in the emergence of impressionism.

The reason was perhaps more artistic: why recreate the world around you as lifelike as possible when you can just take a picture? Up until then preserving visuals of the world had been the exclusive domain of painters and sculpters, but now photographs would surely make them obsolete. What to do? The answer: put added value into a painting.

This is perhaps also the reason the impressionists painted casual scenes instead of the traditional mythological ones. They could show off the difference: their mastery of capturing atmosphere through the use of lighting. And ofcourse the extravagant use of colour, something that was still lacking from photography.

--
"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]

technological determinism overrated... (none / 0) (#30)
by Metatone on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 01:11:04 PM EST

As an Art History professor ear-bashed me, so I'll pass on this nugget. Degas is actually a great example, he was sketching and producing works displaying "photo-journalist" framing of subjects before the camera made it to the scene of the crime... Many of the changes we might attribute to the "camera" came out of the curiosity of artists playing with mirrors and lenses before "photography" came along.

I'd also add a note of starry-eyed naivety: Ambition was certainly the motivator, but to some degree it should be noted that it was not just the monetary passion we see in so many of today's artists. Rebelling against the "academy" was for some of the impressionist artists at least partly a political and individualist act. The most obvious modern analogy I can think of for the K5 audience is the decision of talented programmers to work on open source, rather than seek riches in a commercial academy.

[ Parent ]
Also- (none / 0) (#40)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:05:38 PM EST

Photography was brand new, limited in size and scale, and perhaps most importantly, color photography was still a century away.

However, photographic techniques and tools, such as the use of camera obscura, were in use at least as far back as the 15th century.

New techniques seldom drive art. Certainly, had the airbrush never been invented, Audrey Flack would have painted much like she did any way, only using different tools.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Audrey Flack - bad example? (none / 0) (#47)
by khallow on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 01:08:42 AM EST

New techniques seldom drive art. Certainly, had the airbrush never been invented, Audrey Flack would have painted much like she did any way, only using different tools.

Er, sorry to call your bluff here, but here is a link that seems to have an effective counterargument to your assertion:

For Flack, the1960s was a period of artistic consolidation. She gave birth to two daughters, one autistic, and attempted to balance art-making with marriage, children, and part-time teaching jobs. In the mid-sixties, she branched into compositions based on photographs taken from documentary news, focusing on public figures-- Roosevelt, Kennedy, Hitler. Her most significant work was titled Kennedy Motorcade, capturing the moments just before Kennedy was shot. She also painted numerous portraits of women, all from public media sources.

The next important breakthrough came as a result of her impatience with blocking a drawing onto canvas with charcoal. This led her to project a slide directly onto the canvas and apply color through the projected image. Eventually, she applied paint in layers with an airbrush, mixing primary colors directly on the surface of the painting, resulting in the achievement of more intense luminosity. Flack created complex, monumental still lifes in the 1970s.

There's a lot of talk here about how her art evolved with her personal exploration of technology.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

My point was (none / 0) (#49)
by mcgrew on Mon Aug 25, 2003 at 07:34:29 PM EST

(and your link is correct) that had the airbrush never been invented, she would still have painted, and it would likely have been as beautiful as the airbrush paintings. And might well have produced the same images.

Also, your link also illustrated another point- that technique (projecting the image on the canvas) was used in the middle ages, only with camera obscura instead of a projector. Not new technology at all, at its heart.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Compared to what? (none / 0) (#46)
by khallow on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:53:01 AM EST

I'm grumpy about something else, so I'll make this short. You state that technological determinism is "overrated". Compared to what?

My point is that modern painting took a sharp turn towards the abstract starting in the 19th century with Impressionism and continuing with Cubism and so-called "Modern Art". Why?

Have you a better explanation than the rise of photography?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Write-in vote... (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by atreides on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 10:19:58 AM EST

I hate impressionists.

I prefer neo-classicists like Poussin and David.

"...heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

To each his own (none / 0) (#39)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:01:10 PM EST

In a hundred years they'll be studying Broussard and Carmak.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

And now to something competely different... (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by megid on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 10:27:17 AM EST

Great work. Wouldnt have expected such a thing from kuro. +1 FP.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
my favorite degas (5.00 / 5) (#17)
by llimllib on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 11:07:41 AM EST

I was at the Philadelphia art museum a couple weeks ago, and they had this painting there. It's so dark, and there's such a story in it, it was by far my favorite painting in the museum. I felt like I wanted to write a story about the emotions in it.


Peace.
Peeping Edgar? (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 02:10:52 PM EST

I have heard the following about Mr. Degas: His assistant would have models bathe before sitting for a painting session. When the model emerged from the bath, she was paid and sent home, to her perplexion. Apparently, Mr. Degas would sketch the poor girl through a peephole into the bathroom, Chuck Berry-style. How candid! How scandalous. Generally, I find people's reverence for the actual painter amusing. Most of these guys are total jackasses. I like this article because it lets the work stand on its own two feet.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.

And all artists (none / 0) (#33)
by TheModerate on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:52:31 AM EST

"Generally, I find people's reverence for the actual painter amusing. Most of these guys are total jackasses."

I hesitate to comment this, but my impression is that this is almost universal among all great artists. I wonder if this is a flaw in our society. Maybe thats why we have so much less than quality art because our society discourages the kind of traits that are necessary in rearing great artists.

Just a thought.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

Jackasses? (none / 0) (#37)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:58:48 PM EST

How? Certainly, creative people don't think like the cows and sheeple do, and quite a few of them are gay or have other sexual problems, but I would wager that on the whole, they are no better or worse than anyone else.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

ALERT ALERT! (none / 0) (#45)
by Rhodes on Wed Jul 30, 2003 at 07:10:14 PM EST

I'll bite-- sexual perference and sexual deviance are very separable.

[ Parent ]
"sexual perference" (none / 0) (#48)
by mcgrew on Mon Aug 25, 2003 at 07:30:06 PM EST

Hay, I like that! But look, the very definition of a deviate is someone who deviates from the norm (like, er, geeks). Since a very small minority of people choose lovers of the same sex as they are, by definition it is sexual deviance.

And what if you like doing it with your doggie? Provided you and your doggie are mutually attracted to each other, who am I to say that's not just ann acceptable sexual preferance as same species AND sex?

Wouldn't, shouldn't, that also be an "alternate lifestyle?" I mean, what's so much wronger with bestiality than homosexuality? Besides, of course, that there are more homosexuals than animal fuckers.

Look, afiac what you do in private is not my business or anybody else's. But my permission doesn't make it any more normal or any less disgusting. Although, a dog lover might consider my attraction to the same species as my own disgusting as well. To each his own, just don't try to shiove it in my face, and don't try to say it's somehow natural- because it's not.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Not what it sounds like (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:56:42 PM EST

The model knew she would likely be painted nude. However, Degas didn't want a posed painting like the crap that hung in the galleries, he wanted the girl to look like she was doing what she was actually doing.

How else would we have ever gotten "Girl in the Bath?"

If Chuck Berry's cameras were in his porn stars' dressing rooms, rather than the patrons restrooms, and they were actually paid for it, it would have been much less controversial. And you have to remember, people weren't such pussies back then.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Show me the Monet! (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 05:27:29 PM EST

I said Show Me The Monet!
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
But I'm baroque! (5.00 / 2) (#27)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 04:48:18 AM EST

(sorry, bad, old tired joke, but couldn't resist)

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]
Crap what shall we do? (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:59:18 PM EST

There's no time Tolouse!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

A few points (5.00 / 3) (#24)
by niku on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 08:43:30 PM EST

Degas was a typical impressionist in continuing Delacroix' concept of colors being a vital and equal part of painting just as proportion and perspective. The impressionists take this even further by making color perhaps the most important part of their works. They didn't just use color to finish their original painting, they make it a dominant part by using primarily colored patches to create shapes. This is the most characteristic feature of impressionism and its most distinguishing feature.

First, I would point out the Degas did use colors as an important part of his work. Almost all painters do. The difference between him and someone like Monet is that Monet uses bright, "happy" colors. Degas uses colors that reflect the mood he is trying to create. If you look at a someone like rembrant a master of the use of color and light to create mood, most of his works are "dark", because the scenes he is dealing with are dark.

Also, you say: The impressionists take this even further by making color perhaps the most important part of their works. They didn't just use color to finish their original painting, they make it a dominant part by using primarily colored patches to create shapes. This is the most characteristic feature of impressionism and its most distinguishing feature.

This is false. Impressionism is simply a technique used when painting, nothing more, nothing less. It deals with the fact that in most cases the eye does not destinguish fine details all of the time, and one can create the "impression" if a brick house with out actually painting each individual bricks. Color is often used to create the "groupings" as you call them, but you can also use something like repeating shapes, or patterns. Line, and form can also be used to give the impression of something. Light and shadow can also be used, and neither require color at all.

Color is commonly a very important aspect of many impressionist painting, and is almost universal in the works of early impressionists. It does not mean that color is necessary for something to be in the impressionist style. There are many artists who fall under the blanked of impressionism in terms of style, and yet they work in black and white, or with monocromatic color pallets.

These are just a couple of thoughts and while they are a critism, it's not just a critism of this article. The definitions that you put forth are common througout the art world, and in many schools and articles, they are presented as fact.



--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
Thanks and... (none / 0) (#25)
by jeroenb on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 03:13:32 AM EST

First of all thanks for giving me some good feedback. There is something I'd like to respond to though:

This is false. Impressionism is simply a technique used when painting, nothing more, nothing less.

I know this, which I why I wrote about the impressionists referring to the early impressionists as a group of artists doing similar things - I was not referring to impressionism as a whole or that group as a representation of everything that would ever fall in the category of impressionism.

Also, it's the concept of those color patches that inspired artists such as Van Gogh to experiment with lines, dots, etc. later on, but this is usually called post-impressionism.



--
"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]
Color and "mood" (none / 0) (#35)
by mcgrew on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:51:21 PM EST

What is missed here is the necessity of using color to show reality as it is. Degas is painting brown tables and brown liquids and the brown walls of the establishment. Far from being colorless, the use of color in this particular scene was excellent.

By contrast, when you paint water lillies (Monet), there isn't much brown unless the water is dead.

I've found that some art schools aren't very good. I had to take a web design class where the teacher (barely out of UofP) was talking about using color to set mood, and started pontificating about what colors mean- that red meant danger, white meant purity, black meant gloom- and I was forced to slap her and her ignorant ideas (and teachers) down, and point out that that particular thing is only within a given culture. For instance, the Chinese see red as gay and happy, while white signifies death.

The interesting thing about impressionism was that it was almost dada in its antiestablishment bent, and the establishment's darlings have not endured- not a single establishment artist of the late 1800s would you recognize the name of today, while Manet and Monet and Degas and the lot struggled to eat, and even they hated Van Gogh, who couldn't pursuade anyone to buy any of his work.

One wonders if the 22nd century art historians will remember Andy Warhol or Audrey Flack, let alone Jasper Johns.

Who knows, maybe they'll discover my loser crap and discover that it doesn't suck nearly as much as today's establishment thinks it does...

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Degas and realism | 49 comments (43 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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