In the late 1860´s through the mid 1880´s a younger generation of artists rebelled against The Academy. They formed a group called the Impressionists.

Impressionist used dabs of color, letting the brush strokes show. The smooth - polished look was favored by the Academy.
  • introduced new techniques, in particular the use of small, broken patches of color to record their sensations.
  • painted outdoors, directly from nature, because they
  • wanted to record their sensation of the effects of light on objects through the use of color.
  • were tired of the way that academic painters created the effect of light by the use of light and dark tones. The dark tones in the shadows often deadened the painting, indicated the absence of light and color.
  • saw light and color everywhere, even in the darkest of shadows, which they frequently painted with blues and purples rather than by adding black.

    Objects themselves

    often disintegrated and became blurred - but if the viewer backed away from the painting, the dabs of color create forms.

  • This apple is made up of different color strokes. The background is green, which is opposite red on the color wheel (complementary color). The shadow is made up of blues and purples. The table top is yellow, which is the complement of purple. All of these methods were devised by the Impressionist.
  • Let's look at The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists - 1897 by Claude Monet. Notice the softened tones. Nothing is bright. Monet was trying to capture the feeling of the morning light.
    Click here for more work by Claude Monet.
  • Look at Sunlight on the Road Pontoise, 1874. Notice the brush strokes and the shadows, which are blue.
    Click here for more work by Camille Pisarro (French, 1830-1903).
  • Here is my favorite painting by Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party. Unfortunately, you can't zoom in, but there's lots of information on this page, including a diagram identifying the people in the painting and a glossary of terms. Click here for more on Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919).
  • Look at In the Dining Room by Berthe Morisot. Notice the loose brush work - everything is kind of sketchy. She exhibited in seven of the eight impressionist shows, and was a very important member of the group, yet some books on impressionism fail to mention her name.
    Click here for more on Berthe Morrisot (French, 1841-1895)
  • The Dance Lesson by Edgar Degas is a beautiful painting of ballet dancers. This was a favorite subject of Degas. The light coming in from the windows is a major focus of this work. Be sure to click on detail images. The detail of the girl in the red shirt is georgeous.
    Click here for more on Edgar Degas (French, 1824-1917).
  • Look at The Road in the Woods by Alfred Sisley. Again, be sure to click on detail images. Notice how the woman on the road is just a few dabs of paint.
    Click here for more by Alfred Sisley (French, 1839-1899).
  • In Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, Mary Cassatt demonstrates many of the ideas of the impressionists - loose brush work, compositions influenced by Japanes prints, bold colors. Don't miss the detail images of the little girl and the dog. They're fantastic.
    Click here for more on Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926).
  • Henry Ossawa Tanner was an African American painter who went to Paris, because it was difficult to gain acceptance into the American art world as an African American. There he came in contact with Impressionist art and although he never exhibited with the Impressionists, he painted in the impressionist style.


    The Fauves

    • There was a group of artists who were inspired by Paul Gaugin's use of bright color
  • They tried to push that idea of bright color even further - to try to use the brightest possible colors
  • When they had their first exhibition a critic said they were like "wild beasts" - Fauve means wild beast in French
  • The name stuck to the movement
  • Click here to go on a virtual tour of the exhibition, "Henri Matisse and the Fauves" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

  • Like my pink sky? I tried to use the brightest colors possible. Just like the Fauves.

    Nasturtiums and the Dance
    © Pushkin Musem of Fine Arts, Moscow
    all rights reserved

    Henri Matisse

    • early works are considered Fauvist
    • "orchestrated" color-used color as a primary means of composition
    • created the effect of natural light with "unnatural color" that is an "equivalent" of natural light
    • often painted using a "key"(as in music) color: red, blue, etc.
    • paintings give the impression of radiation light, like the sun, rather than reflecting light, like the moon
    • wanted his paintings to be "comfortable, like an armchair," something to be enjoyed
    • considered himself an expressionist, but also desired the simplicity, balance, perfection, and restrained emotion typical of classical art.

  • Another Fauve painter - André Derain (French, 1880-1954) created his more original work when he was a young artist. His later works are more traditional in style. Watch as the colors get darker as time goes by - in his work.
    • Expressionism

    • a movement of German artists that began in the first decade of the 20th century that, like the Fauves who influenced them, exaggerated color and form for the purpose of expressing emotion
      • Expressionist painters use color to evoke feeling
        • Example - a person's skin may be the color blue to give the feeling of sadness
      • Shapes and forms are drawn with emphasis on feeling at the expense of recording the subjects actual appearance
        • Example- a person may be drawn with really big hands reaching up to express wonderment


    The hands are way too big and she's green. What does this mean to you? I think she looks elated. Also, the green skin is alluding to nature. And, not only that, she could represent a person of any race. Since, nobody is really green - she could be anybody.
    Here are some other expressionist painters:
    Bob Thompson (1937-1966) was an African American painter expressionist painter. Here is a great example of color and form used to convey feeling. Homage to Nina Simone has people of many colors: red, blue, yellow, pink. See more work by Thompson.
    Look at Portrait of Emy by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Here we can see typical aspects of Expressionism. The colors are heightened. In the skin tone, they are unnatural. The forms are exaggerated. Read what it says under the image. This is a portrait of his bride. Obviously, he loves her. He is not trying to make her ugly.
    Click here for more work by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884-1976).