Monday, February 28, 2011

Academic Art versus Modern Art

When discussing Impressionism, we are basically talking about the beginnings of Modern Art. In order to garner a true understanding, we would have to look at what came before to make this style of art "Modern'.

Academic  Art  -  Eternal; Continuation of the past
Adolphe-William Bouguereau, Admiration,1897
Academic Art was the art produced under the influence of the European academies, specifically the Academie des Beaux-Arts which was still under the movements of Neoclassicism of the late 18th century and Romanticism of the beginnings of the 19th century. Bougueruau's art reflects the synthesis of these earlier movements and is referred to as academic art.

Bouguereau did not experience this scene he has painted, it is an allegory he is creating on canvas, even the name suggests this.  Women in his time did not dress this way and the painting is set in a classical setting.  Everything is idealized and constructed out of his imagination.  He modeled a grand moment that can last for many moments.
Adoplhe-William Bouguereau, A Young girl Defending Herself Against Eros, 1880

Modern Art -  Transitory; Break with the past
Claude Monet, Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist's Garden in Argenteuil, 1875

Monet was painting the world around him as he saw it.  Everything in this painting is  drawn from his life, his own experience... He depicts a real woman in a contemporary outfit, something that could be seen in the popular fashion magazines of the time, situated in a real place 'The Artist's Garden at Argenteuil'...  
Even the style depicts a freedom of expression, the presence of the individual brush-stroke instead of the  deliberate, modeled, smooth finish of the past gives immediacy to the viewer.

The differences between the brushworks can be picked out in these details.


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