Artists of the19th century broke with traditional ideas about color, composition and technique that dated back to the Renaissance. They experimented with new ideas about light, painting techniques and composition styles to create more personal paintings than their predecessors. Although sometimes scorned at the time, they are now considered some of the most influential artists in history.
French artist Claude Monet was a central figure in the development of Impressionism while his unique style paved the way for 20th century modernism. He began creating art in Paris in the 1860s. After repeated rejections by the official exhibit called the Salon, he and other painters such as August Renoir and Edouard Manet put on their own exhibit in 1873. A critic's dismissal of his painting "Impression: Sunrise" spawned the name "Impressionists." Often working outside, Monet attempted to capture his surroundings through careful observation and naturalistic representation. Some of his famous paintings include his series featuring the same locations painted at different times of day and his series featuring the water-lily pond at his home.
French painter Paul Cezanne's unique approach to depicting form with color and his rational observations of nature influenced several generations of modern artists including the Cubists, the Fauvists and other avant-garde movements. He began his career in 1860. His early work was characterized by classical and romantic themes, dark colors, thick pigments and expressive brushwork. In the 1870s, he began experimenting with depictions of three-dimensional forms. He created the illusion of form in his still lifes with subtle tonal variations he called "constructive brushstrokes." His landscapes draw the viewer in and build dimension with layers of color arranged in horizontal planes. He joined these elements in his painting "The Card Players." Some of his other famous paintings include, "The Seated Peasant," "Dish of Apples" and "Gardanne."
French stockbroker turned painter Paul Gauguin is perhaps best known for his rejection of the industrialized Western world, his fascination with the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of the "natural man" and his appreciation for handicrafts which helped break down the barrier between art and decoration. In 1873 he settled in Paris and took up painting as a hobby. In 1882, Gauguin lost his job in a stock market crash and decided to take up painting full-time. He traveled the world painting exotic themes with large patches of color and clearly defined forms. He eventually settled in Tahiti. Some of his paintings include "Ia Orana Maria," "Two Tahitian Women" and "Still Life with Teapot and Fruit."
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's posters for Paris night clubs helped elevate advertisements to high art while his paintings of night club performers and prostitutes highlighted their humanity. He was born in 1864 to aristocratic parents in Albi, France. He began drawing as a child when frequent illnesses kept him bedridden. Breaking both his legs in two separate childhood accidents left him with a normally proportioned torso but stubby legs. In 1882, Lautrec began his art career in Paris. He is known for his loose, sketchy and colorful paintings and posters of Parisian nightlife including subjects such as prostitutes, singers and dancers. Some of his famous works include "The Streetwalker," "Woman Before a Mirror" and "Divon Japanais."
Vincent van Gogh
Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting and two drawings in his lifetime. However, his work has influenced thousands of modern artists including the Fauvists and the German Expressionists. He is also many people's model for the archetypical eccentric artist. He began his career in 1880. A He created his now iconic style with quick brushstrokes and the technique of placing small dots of color next to each other called pointillism. Some of his famous paintings include "Starry Night," "Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat," and "The Flowering Orchard." He committed suicide July 23, 1890.
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