Chris and I went to see the European Masters exhibition at the NGV on Sunday. It’s a fabulous, and diverse, collection of work from European painters of the late 19th and early 20th Century well worth going to see if you get the chance.
The exhibition charts the transition from works you might describe as Neo-Classical, through the Romantic movement, Impressionism and towards Modernism.
I was fascinated by the way the curators described the ethic of Impressionism.
Rodin’s Eve was described as being a pivotal moment for the sculptor — his model became pregnant before he’d finished, so he just stopped and exhibited it in (what would have been considered) its incomplete state. Similarly, early Impressionist painters were exhibiting work that resembled plein air studies — the types of thing artists might previously have taken back to the studio to assist with a more detailed and time-intesive work. They were quick, emotional responses to landscape. And it was a revolution dependent on technology; it was only in the late 19th century that they put paint into tubes freeing artists to work outside the studio.
So, compared to more classical art forms, Impressionism is quick, it’s emotional, it’s ‘unfinished’ by the standards of the time, and it’s driven by new innovations in technology. Sounds a lot like blogging to me!