History of Art Questions

History of Art


  1. Why dos some critics refer to Claud Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise (1837) as the first modern painting?

Throughout the Art History, the Painting: Sunrise has beencelebrated as the greatest symbol of the Impressionist Movement. Itis an art masterpiece that illustrates a view of the Le Havre port inNorth-Western France.

Figure1– Impression:Sunrise (1837)-Claude Monet

The painting depicts the advent of Impressionism as a form ofmodern art. The hazy scene deviates from the traditional landscapepaintings and classic idealized beauty. Such were the typical stylesof traditional art movements. The use of loose brushstrokes in thepainting, to suggest the scene, demonstrated the emergence ofImpressionism Art. Short, thick brushstrokes of paint areapplied to the canvas to quickly capture the quintessence of thesubject (Galenson et al. 1067).

  1. Consider the paintings of Monet, Renoir, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. Though they focus on very different subjects, why could they all be classified as “impressionist”?

These Impressionists sought to artistically capture the atmosphere ofa given time of the day or the effects of various weather conditionson the landscape. A key idea was to capture these conditions soquickly that the moment remained vivid and real on a canvas. Theyre-applied the effects of color and light in nature.

Figure2- Four Dancers,1899 (oil on canvas)-Degas

These artists disregarded the typical concept that the shadow of anobject comprised of its color with brown or black added to bring theeffect. Instead, they opposed this movement by creating and breakingshadows of objects with dashes of its complementary colors.

For instance, in the painting of an orange, the shadow may compromiseof blue strokes just to enhance its vigor.

The impressionist broke the focal rule of the previouspaintings, where traditional artists created images that had lines,shapes, tones and colors arranged to a focal point in the paintings.So they were classified as impressionist (Galenson et al. 1067).

  1. What is the different approach and philosophy that Postimpressionist painters brought to their compositions? Describe at least two paintings that reveal the difference between their style and the impressionist.

Postimpressionism is an art movement typically originating fromFrance it developed between 1886 and 1905. It rejected the idea ofthe naturalistic depiction of light and color of the Impressionismera. It creates a broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolism.As a form of modern art, it encompassed other art disciplines suchas:

  • Neo-Impressionism

  • Symbolism

  • Synthetism

  • Pont-Aven School

  • Cloisonnism

Symbolism was a way of looking at the memories and emotions in orderto connect with the viewer on a deeper level. Therefore, personalmeanings were particularly vital to these artists such as Vincent VanGogh (Galenson et al. 1068).

Structure, order and optical illusions controlled the aestheticimpression of artist such as Paul Signac, who relied upon theinterconnection of color and shape to depict their surroundings. Mostartists depended on abstract and paint color pattern on a canvassurface (Galenson et al. 1070).

Two of the prominent Postimpressionism paints are:

Figure3- The Centenary ofIndependence (Henri Rousseau)

In this painting by Rousseau, the peasants are dancing to thefarandole dance, in celebration of the hundredth independentanniversary of the French Republic. The use of bright colors andsolid forms express the happiness mood of the scene, symbolizing asuccessful government. This is a feature of Postimpressionismmovement.

Figure4- Study of a Sundayon a La Grande Jatte (1884)-Georges Seurat

This painting illustrates a Sunday afternoon, on the island of LaGrande Jatte the geometrical shapes are integrated in conjunctionwith the pointillism method of applying the colors together toachieve harmony. It represents a family reunion moment (Galenson etal. 1067).

  1. How did Picasso and Matisse differ in their values about the purpose of art? How did their styles differ? Which work best exemplify their different styles?

Pablo Picasso thought that art should represent nature in its realand appealing form, whereas Henri Matisse held the idea that artshould not be limited to reality only but express other creativevalues such as the use of unnatural colors in paintings. Their stylesdiffered in that Picasso was an expressionist painter but as well asa cubist painting whereas Matisse was an expressionist and a Fauvistpainter. Picasso used bright and odd dark colors while Matissepreferred unnatural colors such as the rainbow’s colors.

In contrast to their styles, Picasso expressed his style by thepainting- Weeping Woman, whereas Matisse expressed his styleby his painting-Woman with a Hat.

Figure5- Weeping Woman-Pablo Picasso

Figure6- Woman with a Hat-Henri Matisse

  1. Why did the early 20th century artists Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian move toward pure abstraction in their paintings?

These artists had pure mystical ideas towards their paintings. Forinstance, the novel idea of Theosophy that spread throughout theirtime, the combination of different arts in order to apply thecontribution of each art to divine harmony, the link of music,theatre and art. Fast and foremost, they believed that an artist hadto express his inner feelings Across Europe artist felt that it wasalso a time to break away from the traditional ways of creativeexpressionism (Blackbird, Vol 2. No. 1).


Blackbird: Reconsidering the Spiritual in Art: The onlinejournal of literature and the arts. Spring 2003 Vol 2. No 1Donald KUSPIT:

Galenson,David W., and Bruce A. Weinberg. &quotCreating modern art: Thechanging careers of painters in France from impressionism tocubism.&quotAmericanEconomic Review&nbsp(2001):1063-1071.