Archive for March, 2010

Blog #4 Impressionism leaves quite an Impression!

Impressionism leaves quite an Impression!

Whether you love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between the Impressionist style of painting had a profound and lasting effect on the art world. I actually enjoy looking at the Impressionist paintings especially those by Monet and Renoir whose pieces produced during the summer of 1869 and generally attributed to be the first impressionist paintings. I also really enjoy the Post Impressionist work of Van Gogh.

Impressionism enabled an artist to convey the emotional element of feeling ordinary things that was never revealed before in the meticulous and calculated Classicism or in the theatrical Romanticism. Realist painters had already initiated a huge change in style, rejecting the artificiality of Classicism and Romanticism and introducing realistic elements into academic art, emphasising the phenomenon of light, truthful and accurate depiction of the models that nature and contemporary life offer to the artist. But unlike the Impressionists they continued to adhere to the traditional rules of composition. Realism really bridged the gap between the Romantic and Impressionist movements.

The Impressionist style discouraged and abandoned the recreation of objective reality as used by the earlier Realist painters and replaced it with practice of developing one’s subjective response to a piece of work to actual experience. Impressionism really rocked the boat with their new radical style. The visible brush strokes and sketchiness of the style made critics complain that the paintings did not look finished.

I have chosen two paintings both depicting the Cliffs at Etretat. This area off the Normandy coast in France was an area that became very fashionable with Parisians and was also widely used by a great many artists including the Realist painter Courbet and Impressionist   painter Monet. I feel that these two paintings clearly show the differences between the Realist and Impressionist style.

The painting below Cliffs at Etretat after the Storm was painted in 1870 in Normandy by Realist painter, Gustave Courbet who was actually a source of inspiration to the impressionists. It is a great example of how the Realist painters painted scenes as they appeared. This is painting is true to nature depicting the details of the rugged cliff face and the definition of each wave and cloud. It is realistic view of the picturesque location.

Claude Monet actually painted more than 60 paintings at Etretat but the one I chose to look at is The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset, which he painted in 1883 at Etretat, Normandy.

You can see in Monet’s painting is far more or an impression than a realistic view. His focus of attention is on the effects of light and the reflections on the constantly changing surface of the water. Instead of focusing on the reality of the scene as Courbet does he portrays the emotion of what he observed as he looked over the water. There are many different brush strokes creating the impression of movement on the waters surface.


Blog #3 Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven 
5th Symphony   Vienna 1807-1808

Click on the picture to hear it >>>

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is probably one of the most popular and well-known compositions of the classical era. This symphony was composed during what had been termed his middle period, from about 1803 to about 1814. Beethoven composed highly ambitious works throughout the middle period which established Beethoven’s reputation as a great composer. This period has also become known as his heroric period as his works express heroism and struggle.

Although Beethoven enjoyed the generous support of the aristocracy throughout most of his life his work was widely accepted, and from the end of the 1790s Beethoven was not dependent on patronage for his income. Beginning about 1802, Beethoven’s work took on new dimensions, and his intention was to celebrate human freedom.

The enlightenment had encouraged the rise of the middle class and there was a need for large concert halls for the increased audiences. Beethoven’s 5th symphony was first performed in Vienna’s Theatre an der Wien in 1908. This was a huge concert that consisted entirely of Beethoven’s premieres, directed by Beethoven. This was the Theatre in which he was the composer from 1803-1804. Beethoven wrote his music to be heard by many and his humanity allowed him to write in a style that had broad and lasting appeal. This incredible piece of music was written to be performed in large concert halls for huge audiences not for a select few aristocrats in their drawing room.

Beethoven published his first symphony at age 30. His work was powerful and universal and his characterization of emotion set him apart from others, so when his work was published it was already in high demand from the new middle class.

 The 5th Symphony comprises of 4 movements but I chose this piece of music, as I especially love the dramatic opening and the last movement, which really is a true “finale”. The opening is so recognisable due to its 4 note movement that is repeated throughout all four movements. This piece of music with its suspenseful pauses and building intensity includes repetition and a common theme that makes it easy to listen to. It is dramatic which gives it a broad and lasting appeal and is still current today in its original form along with the current remixes as shown with the Vanessa Mae version included here.