Impressionism vs Cubism Essay

This essay has a total of 1330 words and 6 pages.

Impressionism vs Cubism








Art, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is a human skill of expression of other objects by
painting, drawing, and sculpture. People have used art as a form of expression for a long
time. From the Mesopotamian era to the Classical Greeks and the present. Art is
expressed in many different ways and styles, and is rapidly changing, one style replacing
another. Impressionism and Cubism broke away from the traditional style of painting.
They were both looking for a new way to express everyday life. Time is an important tool
that is used in Cubism as well as Impressionism. This element is expressed in Claude
Monet’s Sunrise and Pablo Picasso’s Man with a Violin in different ways.

Impressionists’ works were not easily accepted in society. At the time, Impressionism was
a radical departure from tradition. People thought of them as impressions, not real
paintings. Forms in their pictures lost their clear outlines and became dematerialized, a
re-creation of actual outdoor conditions. Traditional formal compositions were abandoned
in favor of a more casual and less contrived disposition of objects. These artists
abandoned the traditional landscape palette of muted greens, browns, and grays and instead
painted in a lighter, sunnier, more vivid colors. The Impressionists abandoned the use of
grays and blacks in shadows as inaccurate and used complementary colors instead. The
Impressionists extended their new techniques to depict landscapes, trees, houses, and even
urban street scenes and railroad stations. They painted real life landscapes as they saw
them without idealization.

Cubism was a completely different style of art that no one had seen before. It was the
style that came to challenge the principles of Renaissance painting as dramatically as
Einstein’s theory of relativity had challenged Newtonian physics (Fiero 9). It is composed
of geometrical shapes, abstraction and time. There are no specific colors or objects used.
Cubists were looking for a different way to express human form as well as art in general.
They provided what we could almost call a God's-eye view of reality: every aspect of the
whole subject, seen simultaneously in a single dimension. According to Fiero, the Cubist
image, conceived as if one were moving around, above, and below the subject and even
perceiving it from within, appropriated the fourth dimension-time itself. In a sense,
Cubism is four-dimensional: depth, height, breath, and time, but seen all at once. It
displays different viewpoints from different aspects. The object is taken and looked at
in many perspectives and is represented that way on the canvas.

Monet’s painting Sunrise displays vivid color, which is commonly used among
impressionists. The painting is of the sun rising over the lake, over looking the bay and
the boats within. “Sunrise is a patently a seascape; but the painting says more about how
one sees than about what one sees. It transcribes the fleeting effects of light and the
changing atmosphere of water and air into a tissue of small dots and streaks of color-the
elements of pure perception” (Fiero 114). This painting is typical of its style because
it captures light at that moment. The sun is rising and its color is projected to
everything in its path. Monet seems to capture this beautiful moment with numerous brush
strokes. One can almost point out where the vibrant colors were mixed directly on the
canvas. Monet’s painting is typical of its style is because there are no defining lines,
the images are blurred one can barely make out the boats in the background. Monet
successfully obtains the light he was trying to portray.

In many of his early works Picasso used Impressionism. For the most part, his use of
Impressionism was nothing more than a stepping stone to his later innovative Cubist
designs. The aesthetics of tribal art combined with the lessons of Cezanne created the
new style that would become known as Cubism. Picasso’s painting Man with a Violin is
expressed with many different viewpoints all at once. This is the main characteristic
that cubists focused on. The painting itself is very confusing and hard to understand
from the first glance. One might wonder that perhaps that is what the artist was trying
to do. It is an expression of life, and life as we know it, is not always clear. In the
painting, we can see the different parts of the violin and the man, but it is not clear.
The composition is extremely abstract which is common in Cubism. There are no specific
colors used, but they seem to be cool and controlled. The best way to describe this
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