The Revolution of Impressionism

The movement that changed the art

Water Lilies and the Japanese bridge, by Claude Monet, 1897–99. Princeton University Art Museum. Source

Impressionism was one of the most important avant-garde movements in the history of art. It emerged during the period of Realism, an artistic movement based on Academic art, characterized by an aesthetic stance that related and identified art closely with reality. In this period artists used to study the rules of the strict realist approach that were taught at the Academy, to seek real approximation and precision in their artworks. Precisely, realist artists aimed to produce pieces of art faithfully resembling reality.

In 1970, the official art exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts at the Paris Salon originated. Only works by the best artists of the time were admitted to this event. Despite the differences that existed between the Realist art that prevailed at the time and the emerging Impressionist art, many of the Impressionist artists decided to enter the competition, but without the expected success. According to the judgment of the Academy, the Impressionists did not have the skills of the Realist artists. Therefore, they decided to reject them alleging the lack of technique and compositional perfection in each artwork presented.

In response to the rejection, the Impressionists championed anti-academism, creating a new trend in art. The revolutionary characteristics of this new artistic movement led to new perspectives for artists. Among one of the main ones, and key to the development of art, was the attempt to capture the moment of light in paintings, relegating forms to the background and extinguishing in artworks the faithful representation of reality, a technique represented by Realism. In addition, they decided to take the criticism made by the Academy to look for new alternative places where the exhibition of their works would be allowed, dispensing with the judgment of the Academy, to begin a new way of making art.

These important changes, the Impressionists were the initial protagonists who converted and founded remarkable artistic changes for all later art.

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