Impressionism and post-impressionism are weird forms of art to me. By this, I mean that they work in reverse of what art has done up to this point. In previous forms of art, the paintings invoke emotions into the audience but in both impressionism and post-impressionism, it is the artist’s emotions that are on display. At the same time, both forms of art take reality and give it a surreal feel to shape the emotions is in the warped perspective of colors and images. This is different from say, the Baroque era, where artist like Caravaggio used shades and light combined with color to create emotion within the subjects. Not only that, but works like “Bacchus” instead used gritty realism to evoke emotions with the audience rather then what the artist felt about the subject matter. Impressionism is the departure from the restraints of both the harshness of reality and the concerns for what emotions were drawn out from the audience. The audience was now less importance, while the artist’s view the world became more central to the art form.
A popular piece, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” makes you feel the intense emotions of looking up at the night sky rather than focusing on the beauty of the night. Not to say that the painting is not beautiful but it is not really a painting of the night but rather the emotions Van Gogh felt about the night sky. The entirety of the painting is about emotion; from the brush strokes that give the darkness swirling shapes of wind and palatable ether to the waxy feel of the light of the star and the moon reflected in the air around them. The emotions about the sky are real even if the painting of the sky itself lacks any realism. A more detached look at the painting allows the observer see to more cartoonish appearance of the work. It has moved beyond the realm of the real to the outlandish and absurd in that respect.
Another piece I would like to compare “Starry Night” to is an impressionist piece but of more recent times. “Sunny October” by Leonid Afremov is a great piece of work done in the style of the impressionism. Similar to Van Gogh’s piece, it full of emotion and the paint, while not laid down with a brush, are thick and give the image a choppy look and more surreal appearance. However, stepping back from the painting, it looks more a real world image; a vibrant snapshot of the world in color. This contrast to the “Starry Night” that, while it shares the use of color and the heavy laying of paint, the picture is cohesive in its subject. Emotion is in the style and color but it does not change the overall appearance of the image. In other words, post impressionism is art where the emotions of the artist are so centric to the painting that it disrupts the reality of the image where as impressionism seems to seem to want to imbue the paintings with their emotions but not at the expensive of forgetting the importance of what they’re painting. One could argue that this was a foreshadowing of society’s progression of being concerned with the world around us and more about what we have to say about ourselves.
“CARAVAGGIO MICHELANGELO MERISI Da.” Boston College. Boston College. Web. 13 July 2015. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo.html.
“Oxford Art Online.” Impressionism & Post-Impressionism. Oxford University Press. Web. 13 July 2015. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/public/page/themes/impressionismandpostimpressionism.
Emelda M. “Difference Between Impressionism and Postimpressionism.” DifferenceBetween.net. June 5, 2011 http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/culture-miscellaneous/difference-between-impressionism-and-postimpressionism/ .