What Is Impressionism?
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||bustling, newfangled, recognition, artistic, stuffy, traditional, jury, painters, porcelain, reseal, critic, sloppy, fire-engine, businessman, artists, especially
||Louis Leroy, Musee Marmottan, Each Impressionist, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Two Sisters, Art Institute, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot
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What Is Impressionism?
By Colleen Messina
1 Do you think a first impression is important? One group of artists did. The Impressionists tried to capture this idea of how things looked at a glance in their paintings. They surprised everyone, especially the art critics, and added a new feeling of excitement to the artistic world.
2 You might think that it was not a big deal for an art critic to not like a particular style. But art critics were important to French artists in the late 1800s. The annual art show in Paris, called the Salon, gave many artists a chance to show off their paintings. Each year, a jury decided on which paintings would be displayed. The future Impressionists decided to paint in a new way. The jury did not like their work. So, the Impressionists had their own art show in 1874. This caused a big uproar!
3 A strange thing happened after this art show that gave the Impressionists their name. An art critic named Louis Leroy saw Claude Monet's painting called Impression: Sunrise at the exhibit. The sun looked like a brilliant ball of orange fire in the gray sky. Mr. Leroy thought that this fuzzy, fiery sun was terrible. He thought the smoky sky and black boat silhouettes were awful. He thought Monet was a sloppy artist. He said that even wallpaper looked better. He called this unfinished style "impressionism." The term stuck. So, Impressionism was named by a cranky critic. Monet's famous painting is now in the Musee Marmottan in Paris.
4 Impressionism became a big deal in Paris. It had a big impact on modern art, too. The Impressionists painted more wildly than traditional artists. They liked to paint outdoors, and they used bold colors. Their paintings also looked a little blurry, as though they were not quite finished. They liked to paint scenes from modern life and nature. Each Impressionist also had a special style, too.
5 One thing many of them liked to do was to paint in the open air. Armed with paintbrushes and overcoats, they left their stuffy studios. They wanted to paint nature...in nature. One newfangled invention inspired them. They now had paint in tubes! Up until then, paints had been stored in little pouches made from pigs' bladders. The artist had to pierce the skin with a tack, squeeze the paint out, and reseal the pouch with the tack. The paint got hard easily. Metal tubes meant that the artists could go on oil-painting trips. This made the Impressionists very happy.
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