Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monet and the Overall Impression

by Julia Buckley
On this day in 1840, Claude Monet was born. Now known as the "father of Impressionism," Monet inspires us still with his beautiful art; the images here are two of my favorites.

It's interesting to note, though, especially after Joe's blog about rejection, that the term "Impressionism" was initially used sarcastically in a review panning Monet's work. Yet now we look at the entire Impressionist movement and see paintings that move us, that elicit real emotion with their beauty. Unlike the critic Louis Leroy, who wrote a satirical review of Monet's Impression, Sunrise in the journal Le Charivari, we see greatness when we look at this art.

And so all art is subjective, although perhaps our definition of greatness can change with time.

In honor of Monet, perhaps we can all share our favorite piece of art, or pieces of art which inspired us to write.


Joe Moore said...

Julia, I never really made the direct connection to my favorite artist and my writing until I read your post. While working on my degree in art many years ago, I was exposed to thousands of great works from French cave drawings to modern art that looked like something from the movie Alien, and everything in between. It wasn’t until I came across Joseph Turner (1775-1851) and his bold landscapes with their overwhelming sunsets and brilliant colors did I find one of my life’s inspirations. Turner’s work is bigger than life—high concept art just like the books I co-write with Lynn Sholes are high concept novels. Turner’s paintings are not only huge in theme, they are physically large in person. I had the opportunity to visit the Tate Museum in London to view one of the biggest Turner collections in the world. I was a kid in a candy store. Your post has made me realize the connection between the works of Mr. Joe Turner and the stories I love to write.

G.M. Malliet said...

Julia - the obits today for Ira Levin tend to mention (several times) how much and often he was panned by the critics for Rosemary's Baby and Stepford Wives. I can't argue these books are great works of art, but they are books I'll be rereading. The man knew how to tell a totally unique story. As you say, it's all subjective.

I'd have to vote for Starry Night as one of my favorite paintings. You can't look at any Van Gogh painting without wishing he just could have hung in there awhile longer.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Lovely post, Julia. One of the many pieces of art that inspired me to write is the oil painting "Landocracy" by Mary Bell Steffen. Mary is a personal friend and I remember Landocracy sitting on an easel in her home, newly finished and drying, many years ago. Mary follwed her dream of being a fine oil painter and has been shown throughout the east coast and won several awards. Several years ago, a gentleman I was dating contacted Mary and bought the painting for me. It hangs above my sofa, a constant reminder to keep following my dreams.

To see a photo of Landocracy:

Mark Terry said...

I was thinking that all art is "impressionistic." A painting of a person is not the person, it's the impression of the person, even if it's realistic. Just like our books. If it's fiction, it's "impressionistic," versus realism. Even nonfiction, I would think, is but an impression. Newspapers typically call themselves "history's rough draft" which suggests even they know it's not reality, just an impression of it.


Once I started thinking about favorite artists I couldn't narrow it down. I like Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Picasso and Pollack. But the very first one that came to my mind was Turner. (Not Ted, you philistines!)

Joe Moore said...

"But the very first one that came to my mind was Turner." Great minds write alike!

Nina Wright said...

I'm partial to Seurat and his
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which not only inspired a theatrical musical ("Sunday in the Park with George" starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters) but is first and foremost hugely imposing in person. When my father turned 80, it was his wish to take the train from Toledo to Chicago to see the real thing, and so that was my gift to him. Even if one knows nothing about Seurat, the painting--with its assortment of characters in motion--screams "Tell me a story!"

Incidentally, those of you who have visited the riverfront park in downtown Saugatuck, MI, have no doubt noticed their tribute to that painting.

Nice post, Julia! You got us thinking.

Keith Raffel said...

I'm a big fan of John Singer Sargent, but he hasn't had any influence on my writing. At least that I know of.

Julia Buckley said...

My feelings about art have changed as I've grown older. As a young woman I found art beautiful or interesting, but as a "middle aged" woman I tend to find it heartbreaking, no matter what its subject matter. Perhaps its talent alone, or the power to link an image to a universal concept, that can have me near tears.

I do list Van Gogh among my favorites, both for his use of color and texture, but I am pleased by almost all visual images. I love Mary Cassatt and her portraits of women and children; I like Degas' ballerinas and Homer Winslow's somber seas.

I also love book cover art!

Mark Terry said...

And Whistler.

G.M. Malliet said...

How could I have forgotten: Edward Hopper. I just saw an exhibit of his works at the National Gallery. All of his paintings tell a story and could inspire a story.

Thanks, Julia - you did indeed get us all thinking.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks for all the great responses!