The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
DVD | Box Set
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IMPRESSIONISTS, THE: THE OTHER FRENCH RE
This epic documentary does a wonderful job of recapturing the revolutionary impact the impressionists made while providing a historical and artistic context for this extraordinary group of painters. The work of Monet, Degas, Morisot, and their fellow impressionists has now become so familiar that its power to shock has all but disappeared.
Young and resolutely modern, these artists threw off the shackles of academic art to capture everyday life in paintings that were iconoclastic in both style and subject. At first they struggled to survive because their work was rejected by the conservative Paris Salon, but those with independent means helped those without (Monet in particular was frequently rescued from poverty by his friends), and gradually they became impossible to ignore. Bruce Alfred's script thoroughly explains the development of the impressionists' approach to art and reveals fascinating aspects of their individual personalities, while a combination of dramatic reconstructions, period photographs, and the paintings themselves creates a rich and informative visual tapestry. Anyone with an interest in the history of art will find much to enjoy. --Simon LeakeSee all Editorial Reviews
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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 painting 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.
1) Edgar Degas
2) Edouard Manet
3) Claude Monet
4) Berthe Morisot
5) Camille Pissaro
6) Pierre Auguste Renoir
7) George Seurat
8) Alfred Sisley
What is remarkable in reviewing these names is to (re)discover how much artistic talent was present in France, especially in Paris, in the second-half of the 19th century.
To their credit, art scholars clearly explain the early struggles of the French Impressionists to overcome the artistic conservatism of the state-run Académie. The annual juried art show, the Salon de Paris, was the embodiment of the Académie's reluctance to embrace change. In the end, the Académie was no match to stop the eventual triumph of these engaged painters who broke many rules in revolutionizing painting techniques and subjects. The on-location photography in France gives viewers a better appreciation of the surroundings that were familiar to these artists. For all its merits, The Impressionists DVD-set cannot be a substitute for standing in front of these masterpieces that assure their authors a place in the artistic pantheon of humanity.
Edward Herrmann's narration is just perfect! Smooth and captivating, Herrmann's soothing vocals provide the icing on the cake! Herrmann is truly one of the great narrators of all time! Great biographies + beautiful artwork + history in the making = great entertainment--what more could you want?
Update: Eleven months later, and I STILL watch this documentary over and over again; I just can't get enough of it!