Now read the texts about impressionism and do exercises that follow
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The Impressionists are said to have adopted their new style of painting after having read works by the physicists Chevreul, Helmholtz and Rood, or at least having heard about their contents. Actually, there is no evidence to support this opinion; on the contrary, everything we know about the Impressionists proves them to be not in the slightest degree theorists; they did not elaborate theories which they proceeded to put into practice in their paintings. They were essentially empiricists; the style of painting which they adopted in the beginning was modified little by little as a result of experiments made in the actual process of painting. They abandoned the method of their predecessors, such as Corot and Courbet, who corrected and finished in the studio works which had been painted from nature; they undertook to work as much as possible out-of-doors, to execute their landscapes entirely from nature, and not to retouch them in the studio.

They also wanted to render as truthfully as possible effects of sunlight. They realized that current practice led them to set very dark shadows, obtained with browns and blacks, against very pale light areas with hardly any colour; the results were hard and heavy, and in no way conveyed the brilliance of a fine day. It began to dawn on them* that they would have to use cool coloursbluish-greens, blues and violets—for the shadows, and warm colours (i.e. those in which yellows predominate) for the fully-lit areas. The contrast between the cool and warm colours made it possible to diminish the value contrasts—that is to say, the range of tones from dark to light. In this way they produced canvases whose lightness and intensity of colour expressed perfectly the luminosity and brilliance of nature bathed in sunlight. It has also been said (and is still repeated) that to enrich the colour of their canvases the Impressionists made use of what is known as division of colour and optical blending. For example, to represent a green meadow they are said to have put little dabs of blue and yellow on the canvas, which were supposed to combine to form green in the eye of the spectator; a far more intense green, so it is said, than one taken straight from the artist's palette. This ingenious theory has only two flaws, but they completely invalidate it. In the first place, it is impossible to find any picture in which Monet, Renoir, Pissarro or Sisley put it into practice; in the second place, the reason they did not have recourse to this device is because in painting (as can be proved by experiment) it does not have the desired effect. Multiple dabs of blue and yellow do not combine to form green on the retina of the spectator's eye.

The Impressionists, especially Monet, devoted themselves to capturing in paint the fugitive effects of light falling on objects, and the play of reflections. They tended therefore (especially Monet and Sisley) to attribute greater importance to colour than to form. They allowed themselves a very free style of execution; they did not blend the colours together imperceptibly, but left the brushstrokes clearly visible all over their canvases. We know Renoir to be an Impressionist roughly from 1869—to 1881—for nearly fourteen years. But he was not wholly lrnpressionist, as were Monet, Pissarro and Sisley. During some nine years) he often covered his canvas with little hastily brushstrokes; but he used this procedure chiefly in landscapes, where this method of working was justified, since it suited the rendering of masses of foliage, of bushes and blades of grass, of the thousand and one reflections on water and the vibrant sunlight falling on objects; for example, in such pictures as "The Grand Boulevards", "The Garden" and "The Greenhouse". When he was painting figures, however, he abandoned this method in favour of using larger areas of colour. The "Nude in the Sunlight" and "The Swing" (both in the Louvre), which were painted out-of-doors, are not done with little separate brushstrokes. On the other hand, in some of his studio pictures such as "The Seamstress" and "In the Studio" (done in 1876, right in the middle of his Impressionist period), Renoir covered the canvas with shimmering little "commas" of paint which make the coloured areas positively vibrate. It is important to stress that Renoir never felt obliged to adhere strictly to one particular method; we know him to change his technique whenever he felt like it. As a result, it is sometimes not at all easy to date some of his canvases; after painting several pictures in one fashion, he would paint another in which he went back to an earlier way of working, just when one would have been justified in thinking that he has abandoned it for good.

 (F. Fosca, Renoir. His Life and Work)

Explain the meaning of the highlighted words and phrases in the text above, explain their meaning in English and say how they are used in the context.


Though he is known to be the painter of ballet subjects, Edgar-Hilaire-Germain Degas (1834-1917) was far more than that. He was a portraitist of subtlety and distinction, a draftsman of infinite resource and one of the most exciting sculptors of his century. Though he first tried to paint historical subjects in the approved manner, giving them what he called a touch of "modern feeling" by choosing more realistic models and arranging them in less formal poses, he soon gave up this idea and began to concentrate on portraits. Degas was a superb portrait painter; in his early canvases he immediately showed his skill in capturing the inner life of his sitters. A born psychologist, he enjoyed the play of one personality upon another. We see also his dependence on the clear structure and incisive drawing of earlier masters, combined with a feeling for discreet colour and delicate effects of light. For all his portraits Degas made many drawings from life, then recreated his sitters from sketches and memory. As he progressed, his touch became lighter and he grew more able to catch the fleeting pose and transient expression. He never accepted a commission and never finished a portrait when he grew bored.

After the war of 1870, in which Degas served, he returned to find that the old society which he had loved was breaking apart. He looked around for new subjects and discovered them in the opera-house and ballet. Here was the fluid movement, the flash of colour and arresting play of light that he loved. At the same time, Degas became friendly with a group of young painters, among them Manet, Renoir, Ваzillе, Monet and Pissarro. He took part in their discussions centering round painting modern life rather than literary subjects and stressing more and more daring effects of colour. Degas disagreed, however, with these men who were to join with him in founding the group of Impressionists when they insisted on painting out-of-doors. There was more to art than surrendering oneself to nature, he said; one built a work of art mentally; through patient observation and style one carried it out. When he first visited the ballet, he recorded it in precise detail; soon he was changing and heightening his effects and substituting pastel for oil. Pastel allowed him to draw as he painted, and satisfied his desire for brilliant, more vaporous colour.

At the same time, Degas sought new and surprising angles of composition. He tilted the floor of a rehearsal room; he peered down from opera boxes; he stood in the wings and glimpsed fresh, unforseen slices of life. Part of this originality came from his study of Japanese art which was then the rage of Paris. From Japanese prints Degas learned to cut his figures abruptly, to overlap one by another—such devices being used to increase the apparent spontaneity of his vision, which actually was calculated down to the last millimeter. From photography, which he ardently practised, Degas further discovered the close-up, the blurred background, and the sudden sharp detail, all of which he used for artistic purposes. And in his studies of dancers he re-created not only glamorous moments on the stage but also the hours of strain and ennui of the young girls exercising or waiting in the wings...

(Daniel Catton Rich, Degas)

Дата: 2018-11-18, просмотров: 560.