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In the 1890s, the public acceptance of the older Impressionists was still only selective. Monet, especially through his 'series' paintings of Haystacks, Poplars and Rourn Cathedral, had achieved widespread success, both critical and financial. Renoir had similar good fortune. However, Sisley and Pissarro. who had abandoned the Pointillist style, continued to gain only limited recognition. Cezanne, still working in relative isolation from all but close col-leagues. remained virtually unknown to the public before his first one-man show at Vollard's Gallery in Paris, in 1895. The ambiguous attitude of the art establishment toward Im-pressionism can be seen clearly in the reaction to Caillebotte's legacy to the state in 1894 of his superb collection of 65 Impressionist paint-ings. Only eight of Monet's 16 canvases were accepted, as were a mere seven of Pissarro's 18, six of Renoir's eight, six of Sisley's nine, two each of Manet's four and Cezanne's five picures. Degas was the only artist to have all his works, a total of seven, in the legacy accepted for entry into the national French collections. From the mid 1880s, other new art styles had begun to emerge and to question the tenets of the Impressionist movement.

Gauguin and van Gogh

Both the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and the French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) combined elements of the realist tradition with subjective expression. Gauguin,

John Singer Sargent's work Monet Painting on the Edge of Wood was executed around 1890. Sargent was an American, bom in Florence, and trained as apainterin Paris. He was friendly with Monet in the later 1880s and visited Givemy several times to see him. This canvas shows Monet's continuing practice of outdoor work which he maintained throughout his life.

however, came more immediately than van Gogh under the pervading influence of the Im-pressionist group, whose works he collected in the late 1870s. Van Gogh. by contrast, had been drawing and painting seriously in Holland for almost six years - more than half of his life as a painter - by the time he came to Paris in 1886 and had his first real contact with the works of even the older French masters like Delacroix (1798-1863) and the Barbizon land-scapists, let alone with the newest Parisian art. Inevitably, therefore, van Gogh's style was already well formulated before his contact with French art, and it owes more to his Dutch Realist contemporaries and to Dutch Old Masters like Frans Hals (cl580-1666) and Rembrandt (1606-1669). Van Gogh's paint-ing style is essentially graphic, as if he drew with color. His mature, post-1887 pictures exhibit a personal, simplified adaption of Chev-reul's influential theories on complementary color contrasts, which he exploited for their emotive power, exaggerating the colors he found in nature.

During the first half of the 1880s. Gauguin came particularly under the influence of Degas. Pissarro and Cezanne, and began by working from nature. However, he was soon to abandon Impressionist ideals. In works like Four Peasant Women (1886). his debt to Pissarro is clearly apparent. He adopted the short, directional brushstroke characteristic of Pissarro's work of the early 1880s, and his subject is comparable to Pissarro's of that time. except that Gauguin chose to dress his peasant figures in fancy regional Breton costumes rather than ordinary working clothes. This was a feature more com-monly found in the paintings of rustic genre scenes fashionable at the Salon exhibitions which rarely showed agricultural laborers actually working. Compositionally. too, there are similarities with Pissarro's art. Gauguin pushed his large-scale figures close up the pic-ture surface, and flattened the pictorial space by eliminating the sky and instead depicting his figures against a modulated green back-ground. Even the slightly stylized anonymity of the women's faces are comparable to the sim-plified features often found on Pissarro's figures.

However, more strongly non-naturalistic. decorative elements - features of his mature style - are already apparent in this work. The flattened pictorial space itself works decora-tively, giving no precise geographical location. Similarly, the frieze-like distribution of the figures across the picture surface, linked by the undulating rhythms of their arms and white collars, stresses abstract pictorial qualities. The rhythm in the figures to the right is echoed and reinforced by the curved tree which, although •behind' them, appears ambiguously near to the picture surface. Even closer in feeling to this work are Degas' interior scenes of women bathers, of which 10 examples were shown at the last Impressionist group exhibition in May 1886. The cramped, claustrophobic space in which Degas commonly located his figures -trapped, as it were. within the tight confines of the four sides of his pictures - is similar to that sought by Gauguin in this exterior, but studio-painted composition. Gauguin was inspired by the simplified form. color and flat compo-sitions of popular prints, and by his experiences of 1886-1887 when he experimented with the simplified techniques of ceramic decoration. He went on to produce far greater symbolic stylization in works like Vision After the Sermon which was painted in 1888.

By 1888 at the latest, both Gauguin and van Gogh were experimenting - possibly alone as well as jointly - with oil colors on raw. un-primed canvas, which readily absorbs the oil binder. In Impressionist painting, such tech-nical travesties were rarely found, unprimed canvas normally being used only with non-corrosive and non-oil-based colors like gou-ache. However, both Gauguin and van Gogh evidently relished the appearance of raw can-vas. particularly of rough sacking or hessian. which they exploited from time to time. as in van Gogh's Chair with Pipe (1889). Gauguin was more committed to this type of coarse sup-port texture than van Gogh, but even he rarely used its potential in combination with the paint layer colors to full advantage. On the con-trary. he avoided the gestural brushwork, characteristic of Impressionism, developing in-stead evenly painted, flat areas of color where variations in thickness or impasto played little part. The smooth, mat surface and opaque quality of his colors were further enhanced by his addition of extra wax to his paints.

This small oil study, Head of a Woman, by Vincent van Gogh shows how formed van Gogh's style was, before he left Holland for Pans. Rich impasted paint was laid on vigorously, in the manner ofFrans Hals, one of the seventeenth century Dutch precursors that van Gogh admired. In this work, pain ted in December 1885, the colons brighter and the paint is more opaque and contains more white than that used for his first large work in oil, Potato Eaters of April 1885. Paint is handled wet in wet. The colors are mainly premised and slurred further into each other on the paint surface. All parts are impasted, but the highlights, like those below the throat, are even more thickly loaded. The modeling of form is still mainly tonal.

Van Gogh remained more committed than Gauguin to the use of commercially ready primed canvas, which he tended to buy in rolls and stretch up onto stretchers himself. This was marginally cheaper than buying ready stretched canvases. For the ground he preferred gray, putty, white and sometimes, like Millet, a bold pink. He often allowed the color of the ground to show through among the paint layer colors, and take an active role in the final effect along-side his graphic brushmarks. His thickly ap-plied colors and buttery impasted brushstrokes evoked varied textures, while following and strengthening the sense of form in his subjects. He sought and exaggerated the natural shapes and rhythmic lines in the objects he depicted, but remained consistent in his commitment to study and work from nature. In some paintings a compositional ambiguity suggests van Gogh's interest in the Impressionists' novel approach to pictorial structure and space. Like many other artists at the time. he too, collected Japanese prints. However van Gogh's con-tinued concern to achieve a satisfactory de-piction of depth in his landscapes with the aid of a perspective frame, are a reminder of his debt and allegiance to the art of the Old Masters.

Van Gogh's paint surfaces, like those of the Impressionists, show the mark of the artist's hand, creating textures which reinforce aware-ness of the paint surface. Both the bold strokes of van Gogh's brush and his exaggerated color, proved important sources of inspiration in the evolution of the Fauve style in the early twentieth century.

The Fauves - Matisse and Derain

The two main Fauve artists, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Andre Derain (1880-1954), worked together at Collioure in the south of France in the summer of 1905, in a productive partnership not dissimilar to that of Monet and Renoir in 1869. There they evolved their own distinctive contributions to the vibrant style, which subsequently earned them the title 'Wild Beasts' from critics later that year.

Aspects of their new approach were also already present in the work of the Neo-Impressionists. particularly the mature works of Signac. and in the anti-naturalistic paintings of Gauguin. In 1888, Gauguin told his followers in Brittany to intensify the colors found in nature in order to stress their essential charac-teristics and to abandon 'imitative' color. These views were remarkably close to Matisse's ideas. Yet Gauguin's advice departed from his practice, in which he developed a personal symbolic art almost exclusively derived from his imagination and eclectic borrowings from the earlier art of many cultures.

Matisse's Landscape at Collioure dates from the summer of 1905. This landscape was painted on the French coast near the Spanish border. It was pain ted alia prima, wet into wet, the colors kept as pure and bright as possible by placing them side by side rather than slurring them. However. the broad strokes, solid areas of color and long sinuous lines show Matisse moving away from the influence of Signac, whose Neo-Impressionist methods had dominated his work the previous year. Light is suggested, not directly depicted by the juxtaposition of vivid colors.

Andre Derain's Collioure was, like Matisse's landscape painted in 1905. Derain's landscape combines dashes of . color, derived from the Neo-Impressionist method, with more broadly brushed areas of flat bright hues. He wrote from the south that 'the light here is very strong, the shadows very luminous. The shadow is a whole world of clarity and luminosity which contrasts with thehght of the sun - this is what is known as reflections.' His words might have come from an Impressionist, although his colons breaking away from strictly naturahstic depiction. The white ground gave added luminosity to the colors.

Matisse, by contrast, sought neither sym-bolic color nor imitative color, but color in its own right, subject only to the harmonious relationships established within the painting . He stated in 1908 Tt is impossible for me to make servile copies from nature, which I am obliged to interpret and subordinate to the spirit of the painting.' Matisse's inspiration came more from what he discovered in his own painting than directly from nature. Unlike Gauguin's synthesizing approach, Matisse's art was both analytical and conceptual, as he em-phasized 'For me, everything is in the con-ception. It is thus necessary to have, right from the start, a clear vision of the whole.' Despite this conviction, however. Matisse's paintings - especially the color correspondences - were often heavily worked and transformed during the painting process itself. Thus, as with the Impressionists, the final appearance of directness and spontaneity in his work was frequently in contradiction to the laborious care of his execution. Matisse found the methodical appli-cation of color theory in the work of the Neo-Impressionists too restricting. His approach to the use of contrasting and complementary colors was more intuitive and instinctive.

Paul Gauguin painted Vision after the Sermon, Jacob wrestling with the Angel at Font Avon in 1888. As its name suggests, Gauguin's work was concerned with inner rather than external truth. He combined stylized images of Breton figures in a shallow pictorial space with a 'vision'in the top right comer. Thus the 'real' and 'imagined' worlds depicted, are separatedby the strong, diagonal of the tree, which was inspired by Japanese prints. Like the Impressionists, Gauguin studied Japanese prints and even adopted their use of bold, flat areas of solidcolor. The figures are distributed unconventionally, cut off and framing the canvas edge at the left andin the foreground. No identifiable source of hghtis used, a device which, looks forward to developm en ts in Fauvism.

Saint-Tropez, the Customs House Pathway by Paul Signac was painted in 1905. Signac's stylein the 1900s was freer than his work in the late 1880s and shows a less rigorous touch. The detail (right) shows the mosaic-nke application of blocks of color, which vary in hue and tone to build up the formal structure of the subject. This method was abandoned by the Fauve painters.

Woman in Front of a Window (1905) by Matisse is a tiny, non-standard size canvas, almost square in shape. The white ground shows among the broken touches of color for the window and bay beyond. The handling here contrasts with that for the interior. Broad areas of flat bright color are applied quite thinly but opaquely. They fill in fluid blue lines which surround the form. A fall of light appears to be depicted on the face alone, but it does not in fact conform to any naturalistic effects. It simply divides the face into two separate areas of color. Colors in the composition are already being adjusted by Matisse to evoke light by contrasts and hue, rather than by imitation of actual colors perceived. Color balance-like the greens in the top right and bottom left across the reds, oranges and yellows-is more important than direct representation. Thus internal pictorial needs determine color structure.

The Fauve painters generally adopted the brilliant white canvas preparations preferred by both Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists in the 1880s. Like the Impressionists, the Fauves appreciated the textured, grainy single priming. This luminous and light-scattering base was often left partially uncovered by their loose. open paint handling. For Matisse in particular it often served to separate areas^of contrasting color, assisting in the vibrant activation of such juxtaposed blocks. While the Impressionist use of color contrasts had concentrated mainly on the complementary yellow and violet-blue pair, because these most aptly imitated the effects of sunlight and shadow in nature, Matisse shifted to the red-green complementaries. This pair creates the greatest optical vibration when juxtaposed because the two colors are the closest in tone of any on the color circle. As the eye tires of reading, say, the red as dominant, the green at once appears to come forward and dominate. This vacil-lation of the eye between the two colors vying for dominance sets up an optical vibration, which enhances the color properties of each simultaneously. By focusing upon the red-green pair- which Matisse often biased towards pink-turquoise - he avoided the emphasis on the naturalistic representation associated with the Impressionists' use of color. It was also a pair which, again because of tonal equivalence, affirmed the flatness of the picture surface by negating the illusion of depth.

All the Fauve painting techniques and de-vices stressed the activity of painting itself above all else. Although remaining figurative in subject matter, brushwork. color and draw-ing were all finally freed in their painting from the restrictions of naturalistic representation.


The legacy of Impressionism

Impressionism had freed painting from the con-ventions of tonal chiaroscuro, giving new em-phasis to color, pure bright luminous spectral color. It had offered new approaches to space and to composition, which liberated art from the window-on-the-world illusionism dominant since the Renaissance. It had freed brushwork from its purely illusionistic or descriptive role, pointing the way both to greater emphasis on abstract, formal qualities in painting, and to a greater expressive potential in touch.

The Impressionists had fused line and color, drawing and painting, resolving the centuries-long dichotomy between these two elements of art. They had found new, more appropriate techniques with which to exploit the full po-tential of modern materials. Yet, still faithful to the nineteenth century natural philosophy, they all remained more or less committed to a depiction of the natural world.

It was in his transformation of their ideas that Seurat, in his late paintings, suggested a new, more stylized and non-naturalistic art-form, which Gauguin, in his entirely different way, pursued in his Symbolist Tahitian paint-ings. With the Fauves, and Matisse in particu-lar, the final legacy of Impressionist naturalism was overthrown, as color was freed from its imitative function, paving the way for the twentieth century abstraction already implicit in the avant-garde art of the 1860s and 1870s. Thus, until 1907 and the advent of Cubism, the radical approach and techniques of Impression-ism remained a powerful force with which successive generations had to come to terms.

Mary Cassatt painted The Boating Party in 1893/1894. A high viewpoint tips up theplane of the blue Mediterranean water, and reduces the sky to a thin bright blue line. All the blues are rich and saturated, linking across the surface to stress the spa tial am bigui ties created by the strong curved shapes, such as the sail and boat. Within these broad flat shapes, th e figures of worn an and child are handled with contrasting delicacy of tone and touch.

Monet's Four Poplars, (1891) was painted in oil on pale-primed canvas. Monet's sensational use of the square canvas format is obvious here. Although the bank recedes slightly to the left, the strength of the geometric grid structure emphasizes the picture plane. The play between the dark, cool foreground grid and the pale warm hues of the curving background line of trees animates the painting further. The relationship of these elements to the overall square is tautly handled. Thispainting is from one of Monet's 'series', an approach to subjects in varying lights, which he perfectedin the 1890s.

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