A&E's special on The Impressionists is Luminous. Principle writer and director Bruce Alfred illustrates the revolutionary, artistic impulses of a brilliant young group of painters who feverishly worked together to break the confines of 19th century traditional painting. Alfred fuses together the historical context of 19th century art Europe with delightfully animated biographies of the Impressionist artists.
In 1859, Claude Monet, the youthful, rebellious, dazzlingly artistic, fame-seeking leader of the group burst forth onto the Parisian scene like balefire. Knowing he was a brilliant painter, Monet sought to breathe new artistic ideals into the electrifying Parisian art scene. He wanted to challenge the prestigious Salon Jury with his exquisite seascape paintings. Monet painted the Life and Nature surrounding him, instead of painting traditional, historical paintings. He immediately befriended liberal Camille Pissaro, an avant-garde painter of landscapes and everyday Island life, who was also longing to abandon traditional painting.
Together, Monet and Pissaro banished from their canvases the traditionally accepted historical, mythological, and religious paintings of their time; instead, they began painting life as they experienced it. They began to paint Sensations - fractured sun light enveloping trees, water shimmering with light, Parisians rushing down a busy street.
By 1862, Monet and Pissaro surrounded themselves with other, artistically adventurous visionaries: traditionalist August Renoir, the notoriously shocking and egocentric Edouard Manet, obsessive-compulsive Edgar Degas, and the oppressed Bertha Morisot, who would receive artistic praise from these brilliant men, inspiring her to remain the sole female artist in the male-dominated art world.
It would take 12 years (1874) before art critics would finally have the chance to critique their paintings. The critiques, however, were ill-fated; their works were deemed incomplete; critics considered the works "impressions" of what the completed paintings might look like, if the artists went back and finished their paintings. The artists, however, did not...
This group forged a lifelong friendship, painting together amidst war, poverty, mental anguish, love, rejection, disappointment, and finally, in their dying years, positive recognition.
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