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September 23, 2008

Impressionism - Video Series

If you want to skip to the videos, scroll down the page.

The videos in this series on Impressionism are different and much, much better than the usual "just pictures, with music" kind of videos. The name of this series is IMPRESSIONISM, REVENGE OF THE NICE, with Matthew Collings (British artist and art commentator). This was originally a British TV series (in 2004).

These videos are not only enjoyable to watch, they're also educational, or the ones I've seen and heard have been -- Out of the ten videos in this series (there are links to all of them below) I have only been able to watch six, the reason being that no matter how many times I've gone back and tried again, different days and different parts of the day, there are four that I haven't been able to get past the very beginning of -- no more than ten or fifteen seconds into them --because they only play for literally about two seconds at a time, with a very long break and then another couple of seconds played, and so on and on and on (the others worked just fine). But don't go away! You needn't see all of them in order to come away with some new information and ideas on this subject (though you may have known all these things before; I didn't). Even one video would be better than none, truly.

Actually, there were five out of the ten that kept stopping and starting, but I watched one of them anyway (Part 5) -- It stopped and started in the same way as the other four, but I stuck with this one and I would say it probably took at least an hour to get through it (it's supposed to be 10 minutes and 22 seconds long). It was worth it, but I don't have forever to watch these in that way. These are really good, interesting videos, though, and I feel good about what I've learned from the parts I've been able to watch no matter that I haven't seen the others (I've watched them twice so far). But I wish I could see the others, too! If anyone knows where all-the-way-through smoothly playing, versions of Parts 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10 can be found, please let us know in the Comments section. Thanks!

Not only do we see all of the paintings Collings talks about in these videos, but he talks directly from inside the museum where the paintings are, from the sidewalk outside in a neighborhood Impressionists (or their precursors) lived in or from a seat in a cafe they frequented, etc. It's present-day Paris (and other locations, such as the French countryside, but mostly Paris), and present-day people milling about, but it's in the same places where these things happened - and, after all, people are people. The settings - and someone speaking directly from the settings - bring that time to life, and make it all seem more real.

The artists Collings talks about are just these four, the first two pre-Impressionists (and Impressionist precursors) and the last one a post-Impressionist -- with Monet being the only Impressionist in the bunch:

Gustave Courbet - French Realist painter, 1819-1877

Edouard Manet - French Realist/Impressionist painter, 1832-1883

Claude Monet - French Impressionist painter, 1840-1926, and Paul Cezanne - French Post-Impressionist painter, 1839-1906.

The Bridge at Argenteuil - 1874

Claude Monet

Source: The Athenaeum

I wrote down some comments and a few quotations while watching the six videos that I have been able to watch (1, 2, 3, 6, and 8), and I'm going to add those below, where the videos they pertain to are listed.

I'll put the videos that worked fine for me right on this page, and will just add links to their YouTube pages for the ones that hardly worked for me at all. You might have no difficulty with them, who knows (I hope you'll be able to watch them).

If you click too hard on the videos themselves, you will be taken to the YouTube page they're on -- but if you just left-click gently one time on one of the arrows on the front of the video, you will be able to see the video right here on this page.


Part 1 of 10 Parts


My notes on this one are below the video

Click here to watch Part 1 on its YouTube page if you have any trouble viewing it on this page.

MY NOTES FROM THIS VIDEO: Collings tells us what led to Impressionism and what kind of art was being produced before it came along. He first points out that at the time Impressionism was invented it was avant-garde and not understood or liked by most people. It was shocking, in fact. We think it's very "nice" now and find it hard to understand why people didn't like it back then.

The two artists he says "opened the door for Impressionism" were Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet. Claude Monet was the first (and "main") Impressionist. And the artist who turned Impressionism into Modern Art is Paul Cezanne.

All of these artists knew each other. The "radical idea" they all shared was that art should be real and not false. The "art of the salon" at that time is shown to be quite "unreal."

Collings first talks about Courbet, who was not an Impressionist himself (he was a "Realist").  Courbet had the idea that art should be about what's really happening in the world around us, now, showing people as they really are, rather than about mythological figures with perfect, unrealistic bodies enjoying themselves in some idyllic, unrealistic setting, for example.


Part 2 of 10 Parts


My notes on this one are below the video

MY NOTES FROM THIS VIDEO: This one is about Courbet, not an Impressionist but one who inspired the Impressionists. "You should paint the truth. Paint your own time, from your own point of view." -- Courbet

If you want to watch Part 2 on its YouTube page, click here.


Part 3 of 10 Parts


My notes on this one are below the video

MY NOTES FROM THIS VIDEO: More on Courbet ("Courbet gives to Impressionism rough surfaces and being against the salon, being for truth and against lies"), but it's not only about Courbet; before the end of this video he begins talking about Edouard Manet, another precursor of Impressionism. Manet makes color important. Courbet and Manet were Impressionism's two most important precursors.

If you want to watch Part 3 on its YouTube page, click here


Part 4 of 10 Parts


Part 4 is one of those in this series that I have not been able to watch because it's constantly stopping and starting. You can try watching it on its YouTube page, here.  I hope it works for you.


Part 5 of 10 Parts


Part 5 is another of those in this series that constantly stops and starts, or it did for me every time I tried it. However, I stuck with this one to the end (it is supposed to be 10 minutes, 22 seconds long, but I'm sure I spent over an hour watching it). You can try watching it on its YouTube page, here. I hope it works for you. If it doesn't, you still might want to watch the other videos -- I missed out on four out of the ten yet I'm very glad I watched the six.

MY NOTES FROM THIS VIDEO: As I did stick with it even though it drove me crazy, I took notes on this video. There is a comparison on this one between Courbet and Manet's ideas about what should be painted and how it should be depicted. There are many scenes of present-day Paris in these videos, the same places that were painted, lived in, where artists met, etc. "back then."

Impressionism was inspired by both Courbet and Manet although they themselves were not Impressionists. Courbet's art was (at first) revolutionary, "menacing" art (later it was more sensual and [sometimes] erotic and not concerned with politics), and Manet's was "a relaxed leisure type of art.....In Manet's art is the sense of modern life, conveyed in the liveliness of painting."

Courbet and Manet were the painters who most influenced the Impressionists. Collings goes on in this video to talk about Impressionist Claude Monet (whom he calls the "main" Impressionist). "Reality, sensuality, color were Monet's inheritance from Manet and Courbet." Monet brings painting outdoors in nature to the mix. Monet was the one who founded the Impressionist group. Movement, spontaneity and light were its principles. Monet met Renoir while at a private ("shabby, cheap") art academy. They became friends and spent much time painting outdoors side by side.


Part 6 of 10 Parts


My notes on this one are below the video

MY NOTES ON THIS VIDEO: Still on Monet. Monet adored Manet. Manet didn't like being confused with Monet. Manet didn't paint outdoors. Monet and other artists caught the train and spent weekends in the outer suburbs, formerly country villages. Monet painted outdoors along with Renoir. Monet didn't pay as much attention to details as Renoir did. It's in this section where we learn how the loose, informal style became the "Impressionist" style - This style came from their oil sketches they had intended to be preparation for finished works. Collings also talks about how Impressionism was inspired partly by photography.  The Impressionists wanted to make paintings that were "emotional, full of feeling, aesthetically heightened," that photographs couldn't compare with.

If you only have time for one of these videos, this is a good one.

If you'd rather see this on its YouTube page, click here.


Part 7 of 10 Parts


I have not watched this one yet. It's like the others that are stopped much more than they're working.

This one is about Monet. If you want to try watching it, click here to see it on its YouTube page. I hope it works well for you (and I wish it would work well for me).


Part 8 of 10 Parts


My notes on this one are below the video

MY NOTES FROM THIS VIDEO: It starts out about Monet, beginning late in Monet's life (the last video was apparently about Monet up to this time). Monet was "the main" Impressionist. When Monet died "pure" impressionism was over. His type of beauty was no longer "in." Cubism, Surrealism were the new avant garde, and these were not beautiful in the sense, at least, that Impressionism was. Monet's art came back into fashion in the 1950s (long after his death). His reputation rose with the public then, but Impressionism wasn't in fashion with avant garde artists of that era...They were far beyond it.

Cezanne came next after Monet died. He was "the Impressionist who takes Impressionism into Modern Art. He takes the spontaneity and movement of Monet and puts in structure...He puts cerebral difficulty in with sensual pleasure." Cezanne's earliest paintings were nothing like those he ended up painting. They were dark and grim.

If you have any problem watching this video here, you can click here to get to it on its YouTube page.


Part 9 of 10 Parts


I have not watched this one yet. It's one of those that is off more than it's on. If you want to try watching it on its YouTube page, click here. Good luck.


Part 10 of 10 Parts

I have not watched this one yet. It's one of those that's off more than it's on. If you want to try your luck with it, you can click here to see it on its YouTube page. How I wish I could see it.


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LDahl said...

Hi Jean, wow you put so much work into your Blog! I have started watching some of the videos,the impressionists were always big favorites of mine when I was growing up. These videos bring back all that love and the smell of oil-paint! Thanks for posting my friend.

Jean Vincent said...

L Dahl (who is indeed my friend) -- Thanks for coming by! I'm so glad you left a comment! :-)

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