During the 1870s and 1880s, a loose group of French artists, including Pissarro, Monet, and Renoir, adopted a style of painting and subject matter that challenged the art prompted by the Academie Francaise and the Salons where "official" assumptions about the meaning of painting prevailed. What has been called "the revolutionary nature of the Impressionist enterprise" emerged from political radicalism, belief in science and individualism, and a view of art true to modern life and to immediate visual perception. In all these respects, Impressionism initiated the radical tendencies of modern art. Today the revolutionary aims of Impressionist artists are generally overlooked. Impressionist art has been marketed more successfully than any other style: the price of Impressionist paintings surpasses that of the Old Masters, exhibitions draw blockbuster crowds, and books and mass reproductions are ubiquitous. In her perceptive new survey, Belinda Thomson challenges both sentimentalized and simplistic views of Impressionism. Drawing upon recently discovered documentscritical reviews and letters between artists, writers, and dealersshe illuminates the thinking and the personal lives of the artists themselves, examining the factors and experiences that allowed Impressionism to develop when it did. She investigates the family background of the Impressionists, the importance of the art market and collecting, and the influence of the critical reception to their exhibitions. 250 illustrations, 200 in color.
These two new titles make welcome additions to the remarkable Thames & Hudson World of Art series. Impressionism: Origins, Practice, Reception employs over 250 illustrations to shed light on the major artists of the Impressionist era, including their personalities, social circumstances, subject matter, and artistic concerns. Also examined are the critical reaction to their exhibitions, their impact on the art market, and their legacy. Drawing on recently discovered reviews and letters as well as current social history, the book uses caricatures, photographs, fashion illustrations, advertising posters, and drawings along with the paintings of Renoir, Manet, Monet, and many others in explaining the significance of the Impressionist movement. A chronology, select bibliography, and index are also included. Prendeville's comprehensive survey of Realism in 20th Century Painting offers a distinctive focus on modern painting, in contrast to the usual focus on the development toward abstraction. In presenting a chronological survey of the work of both well-known and lesser-known 20th-century realist painters, the author uses 200 illustrationsalmost half of which are in colorto show how these artists fit into the complex of artistic styles and movements that characterized that century. (It should be noted that several of the illustrations in Prendeville's volume are explicitly sexual in nature.) An extensive, thematically arranged bibliography and index are included as well. Like Impressionism: Origins, Practice, Reception, this book employs a clear and understandable writing style even when addressing complex issues. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high schoolstudents, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Norton/Thames & Hudson, 272p, illus, map, index, 21cm, 99-69985, $16.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Rhonda Cooper; Dir., University Art Gallery, Stony Brook, NY, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)