Impressionism is the most popular art movement among museum-goers. But that which may now seem delightful and rather inoffensive landscape painting was in truth one of the first avant-garde movements, whose members decided to act as a group in order to more effectively combat traditional art values. The Impressionist's plein airpaintings shocked the public for their technique as much as for their apparent banality. But while Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and others sought to capture light's fleeting nature, the following generation would go on to reject naturalism. Post-Impressionists such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Seurat would favour the subjective over the objective, the timeless over the concrete. In so doing, they paved the formal grounds on which 20th century modern art would grow. This Essential volume is a visual guide through these crucial moments in art history and of the 19th century's unrelenting advance towards modernity.
Nathalia Brodskaia is a curator at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. She has published monographs on Rousseau, Renoir, Derain, Vlaminck, and Van Dongen, as well as many books on the Fauves and Naive Art. She is currently working on a study of French painters at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
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