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September 27, 2008

The Impressionists - Another Video Series

This post goes along with my last post, also on a video series about the Impressionists. The videos shown here are taken from a different TV program, a BBC series called The Impressionists produced in 2006. I would very much love to see the whole thing, but I'll take what I can get for free. This is fun to watch even though it consists of selected scenes, far from the entire original program.

The person who uploaded these videos to YouTube says that the scenes he's chosen for this particular video are "mainly about the paintings and painters doing their work."

The series is about Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Bazille...and Manet. (Manet was a realist painter who knew and had a big influence on the Impressionists), and Cezanne (post-Impressionist painter). Everything is seen from the point of view of Monet as an old man looking back while being interviewed at his home in Giverny.

The original series consisted of three one-hour programs, the first about Manet's influence on the Impressionists, the second focusing on Degas, and the third on Cezanne (a post-Impressionist painter).

These videos do not have the dialogue on them, but who cares -- They are beautiful. There is good background music, and since we have a good idea of who the people being played are (we know they're Impressionists, we recognize their paintings), and where they are (France), it's possible to follow along and enjoy this even though we can't hear anyone talking. Although they are actors, we get to watch the artists "painting" these pictures we know so well.

Hoping that a lot of good research was done before doing the filming, I like to think that I'm seeing more or less how it really was back then -- getting more of an idea than I had before at least. To see the train chugging along through the French countryside with steam pouring out, and inside the train an artist sketching a fellow passenger, for instance, brings the time to life.

It's interesting to see the world in which these artists lived and their relationships with each other (and their families) rather than just imagining each one of them as a person contained inside their clothing with no relationship with anything outside themselves (as one appears in a typical portrait). We see the artists trudging out into the woods, for instance, setting up their easels, wearing what I would consider "too nice" of clothes to be painting in. There's lots of squeezing of big blobs of paint onto palettes -- Looks expensive. Painting at the seashore, at a lake, etc. Their families very much a part of their lives.  I'm sure these scenes were made at the actual places where they happened, and it's wonderful to "be there" and have it seem so real.


(There is no dialog in these - just the background music)

Part 1 - The Impressionists BBC Series (2006)
My notes on this are below the video

MY NOTES ON THIS VIDEO: Manet's pictures are wonderful but they don't seem to fit in here, especially the ones of people being shot. But I remember that he wasn't one of the Impressionists.  Lots of squeezing of paint onto palettes. Painting at the seashore. At a lake.

Part Two - The Impressionists BBC Series (2006)
My notes on this are below the video

MY NOTES ON THIS VIDEO: Degas. Ballet dancers. Renoir. Monet.  Monet got up to paint the sunrise, wearing his nightshirt, but the paints were all ready on the palette, imagine that, and not dried up. Outside in a poppy field with Madame Monet and their son in a little hat.  Now and then when they're painting you get an idea of how they painted, even though these are actors. Renoir again, then Degas.

Cezanne again.  And so on. Very pleasant looking at the scenery, the people, and the paintings. Even the train station in Paris painted by Monet (and from which he no doubt took the train to paint out in the country).  Besides paintings, pastels by Degas. Monet painting his wife on her deathbed.  A few more paintings by Bazille near the end of this one.

Part Three - The Impressionists BBC Series (2006)
My notes on this are below the video

MY NOTES ON THIS VIDEO: In this one it shows an actor playing Cezanne. The finished paintings have the title and name of the artist. You can see how the scenes he painted look now from the same viewpoints.  Monet is also in this one, with his wife and her little parasol, and the haystacks. The cathedral. If we had inspirational music like that playing as we worked, we might make some great paintings, too! Monet, his garden, the water lilies.....the curved bridge reflected in the pond. Monet now an old man with a long white beard.

This video is from a trailer made while the series was still being filmed. There are bits of several scenes, and it includes not only background music but also the dialogue.
THE IMPRESSIONISTS (Work in progress trailer)

Here are comments by the person who uploaded this video: "The picture is still ungraded, the sound unmixed and the music itself is from other movies. It also contains shots and scenes which were eventually taken off the final cut (Monet screaming, various lines from old Monet...and a steam train from the wrong period, just to mention a few). It is divided in various sections: one about Monet, one about Manet, Degas and Cezanne."

Here is a longer trailer, with the same comments (see just above) by the person who uploaded this video to YouTube:
THE IMPRESSIONISTS (Work in Progress) Long Trailer


Here is a good review of the series on The Impressionists, and a link to price comparisons if you're interested in buying the DVD.

Frédéric Bazille, French Impressionist painter - 1841-1870

Paul Cezanne - French Post-Impressionist painter, 1839-1906

Edgar Degas
French Realist/Impressionist Painter and Sculptor, 1834-1917

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

Claude Monet, French Impressionist Painter, 1840-1926

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French Impressionist Painter, 1841-1919

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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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September 12, 2008

Martin Lewis - Printmaker

I love Martin Lewis' black and white prints of life on the streets in New York City (mostly in the 1920s and 30s), which are the works he is best known for. Although he painted and sometimes drew in colors, his prints are considered to be his finest work. I would love to be able to add some of his pictures to this post, but most of his works are still under copyright and the pictures he made in his early days that are no longer under copyright are not typical of the works that I like best and that he is best known for (not that I don't like the others - some I like a lot but I thought that if I added only those pictures here someone might get the wrong impression, thinking that these were typical of his work, and might not bother to take a look at his works that I'm going to add links to below).

He was good at capturing light effects, both in day and night scenes, and he was also very good at drawing snowy and rainy scenes. I love the "social commentary" aspect of much of his work. Also, he obviously had a sense of humor (take a look at Boss of the Block, for instance -- There are links below to several of his pictures and also there's a video below showing some of his work).


Martin Lewis was born in Australia in 1881. He left home when he was fifteen with the intention of making his living at art. He traveled and sketched in the countryside of Australia and New Zealand, and from 1898 to 1900 he attended the James Ashton Art School near Sydney, Australia (that was his only official art education), and eventually found work as a merchant seaman. In 1900 at age 19 he sailed to the United States, first stopping at San Francisco where he got work as an artist working for William McKinley's political campaign. By 1909 he had settled in New York City, where he supported himself by working as a commercial illustrator.

For two years in the early 1920s Lewis lived in Japan where he drew and painted, and studied Japanese art. The influence of Japanese prints is very evident in some of his own prints made after that period. He returned to New York City and by 1930 was concentrating on the black and white pictures he is most famous for, mostly night pictures. I'm very intrigued by night pictures and also I love (non tourist/real life) street scenes in big cities, and although I've never done any printmaking I wish now that I'd learned to -- I love pen and ink drawings and enjoy drawing with a pen myself; so naturally these pictures (which look very much like pen and ink drawings) appeal strongly to me, and they also appeal to many others. People pay a huge amount of money for his prints these days.

In 1930 he and his family moved to Connecticut, but he stayed in contact with friends in New York and returned there to live in 1936 as he loved big city life and found life in the country too dull. He taught at the Art Students League from 1944 to 1951.  He died in 1962 in New York City.

Now for the best part of this - Links to several of Martin Lewis' pictures, ones that I myself like best.


The Old Timer Battleship, 1916  One of his first prints.

Something different by Martin Lewis -- a painting.  Lewis lived in Japan in the early 1920s.  Mt. Fuji - Looking across to Gotemba, c. 1920
oil on panel

One of my own favorite pictures by Martin Lewis.  The Bridge near Nikko, 1926
Drypoint and sand ground

Down the Hudson -- Smoke and Sunshine, c. 1926

Derricks at Night, 1927

Glow of the City, 1929
drypoint on wove paper

Stoops in Snow, 1930. This looks like it was influenced by his stay in Japan.
(And, by the way, you can have this one for only $50,000 - Just "add to basket," as it suggests)

Shadow Dance, 1930
drypoint and sandpaper ground, trial proof

Arch, Midnight (New York City), 1930

Rainy Day, Queens, 1931

R.F.D., 1933
drypoint and sandpaper ground

Winter on White Street, 1934

Boss of the Block, c. 1939
Aquatint and etching

Here is one of my favorites (but this isn't a good picture of it; I have a better picture of it but it's under copyright and I can't display it on this blog -- Unfortunately I didn't make a note of where I found it on the web and now I can't find it again). The subject is cars on a wet country road at night. Wet Night, Route 6, 1933
drypoint etching

AT THE LINK BELOW THERE WAS A PHOTOGRAPH OF MARTIN LEWIS - But as someone wrote in the Comments section (in Oct. 2010), the photo is no longer on the page.  I've looked and looked to see if I could locate this photograph elsewhere, to no avail.  If you find it please let us know in the Comments section where to find it - Thanks!  Meantime, you will know where it was.  Where it was:

Title: Martin Lewis in a Subway Kiosk, 1951
Vintage silver gelatin photograph.
Photographer: Alfred Gescheidt.

This is very interesting. It is a photograph of a New York City night scene of the type Lewis drew, and what's even more interesting is that the man in the photograph coming up out of the subway is Martin Lewis himself. I think it would be very interesting and fun to try to draw this with pen and ink. By the way, you can buy this photograph for just $5,500.00.

Late Traveler, 1949  This print was made before the photograph of Lewis (see above) was taken, apparently in the same setting.

Here is a blog post on the "Articles & Texticles" site devoted to Martin Lewis, with several of his pictures that enlarge to a good size. The "Shadows, Garage at Night" is one of my favorites. After you open up a picture to a large size, click the X in the bottom right corner of the picture to close it and go on to the next one.

A series of New York City scenes by Martin Lewis

You can also see the above video on this page where you can read about the music recorded in 1932 that's played with the video.

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