“The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art / project / enterprise is to you — and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.” – Steven Pressfield
In 19th century France the success of an artist was dictated by institutions made up of elected life members. The group was exclusive and conservative, only considering new candidates upon the death of an existing member.
Together this group designed a rigid curriculum for aspiring artists, chose which works would be exhibited at the Salon, and even decided what art should look like.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about the boundaries set by these supposed authorities. So in 1874 a group of French artists took a defiant stance against the traditions of the art world. Instead of following the rules surrounding composition, expression, and perspective they dared to use bright colors, modern subjects, and loose brushwork.
They painted vivid scenes of everyday Parisian life, capturing the fleeting “impression” of a moment that passes too quickly.
Not surprisingly, their work was mocked by the Salon. Considered gaudy and unfinished in appearance, the artists’ work was denied by exhibitions time and again. As a result, they held independent showcases and were later known as the ‘Impressionists.’
Today, the paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Camille Pissarro are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and their names etched in history.
Although ridiculed at first, the Impressionists redefined what art could be. In the process they inspired other artists by opening their minds to new vistas of possibility. Over the years, artists from all over the world have experimented with similar techniques, incorporating stylistic movements into their own work.
The spirit and perseverance of the Impressionists is an invaluable lesson in creating opportunities and protecting our creative integrity even when difficult — especially, when difficult.
National Museum Cardiff
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