Taking a Look at Impressionism

3412 WordsJan 30, 201814 Pages
What Impressionism Sought to Achieve By the year 1863 the sentry which allows the visual messages transmitted by the eye to penetrate to the brain only after a rigorous censorship, had admitted most aspects of visual truth, but there were two that had not yet officially passed the censor. They were (1) the colour and vibration of light and (2) the density of air. No one had ever painted the true colour of sunshine and shadow, and hardly anyone had thought it worthwhile to suggest that the density of the air is not always constant, that a picture could be painted, for instance, of a landscape seen through a heavy mist or fog. But both these visual discoveries were, fundamentally, subheadings of a larger discovery. What the Impressionists did, almost without knowing it, was to realize the phenomenon of transitoriness. The artist who carries his canvas out into the open air and attempts to record every nuance of what his eye sees is in a very different frame of mind from the artist who constructs his picture in his studio from a series of preparatory sketches or studies. His eye may not be more searching but it becomes conscious of a different set of visual data. He becomes less and less concerned with the nature of the object - figure or landscape - he happens to be painting, and more and more conscious of the appearance of the object at a particular moment of time. For Monet, at work on a picture of Rouen Cathedral, what his eyes encountered was not a Gothic
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