Impressionism: Revenge of the Nice

Britain’s leading contemporary art critic and BAFTA winner Matthew Collings reappraises Impressionism. The four stars of the film are Courbet, Manet, Monet and Cezanne. Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet were the two artists who opened the door for Impressionism. The one quintessential Impressionist is Claude Monet. The artist who ended Impressionism was Paul Cezanne. These will be our guides – they all knew each other, they went to the same cafes, they sometimes bought each other’s paintings to support each other. What united them artistically was a radical idea – they thought art should be real and not false. In two hours, their stories and their art intertwine. Collings unpacks the principles of Impressionism – the strength of colour, the flatness, the patterning and the way in which ordinary life is pictured with startling truth. Collings also tells the story of the Big Bang of Impressionism. In the 1870′s a group of artists really did sit around and say, “Let’s do Impressionism”. They go ahead. It’s resisted, but then it takes off. Collings argues that this is the best thing that has ever happened in Modern Art. He shows that although the contemporary art world seemingly despises Impressionism, it is only because of Impressionism that the avant-garde came to be. So in this film, Impressionism bites back.

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