The three works that I chose to analyze were done in two different periods; two were post impressionistic and one was impressionistic. Vincent VanGogh and Claude Monet are artists that are both memorable and timeless in their expression of art. Impressionism was developed in France and the followers of the movement were dedicated to make their art reflect contemporary realty in their society. On the other hand Post-Impressionism does not denote a single style, while the artists sought to bring meaning to their work while trying to retain basic values that prevail throughout impressionism. Claude Monet and fellow colleagues united in their discontent against traditional artistic conceptions gave birth to what we now term as “impressionistic art.” One such work that conceptualizes this phrase is The Stroll. Post Impressionism sought to build on the fundamentals of impressions but give it a depth and meaning; two works of Vincent VanGogh’s that epitomize this are the Starry Night and Wheat Field with Crows.
Impressionism emphasized painting directly from nature, eliminating the black and white outlines and shadows that were typical of academic painting. Claude Monet’s The Stroll epitomizes the Impressionistic concept of “the glance”. The work shows Mrs. Monet in the midst of a stroll with a beautiful backdrop; where the image is almost superimposed with the background. The work is given an unreal quality where the viewer doesn’t know where the clouds begin and Mrs. Monet’s scarf ends. The spiraling folds of her dress give the viewer the impression of a gentle breeze blowing through the painting. One is almost enraptured when looking at the painting (almost snapshot) of a young Mrs. Monet with her son taking an evening walk. Monet imparts to the viewer a sense of depth with his vivid use of colors to separate and collude both the characters and the scenery. A singular distinction that sets impressionistic artists apart from their predecessors was their use of color to impart not only texture and body to a work but to also contrast and allude to “happy thoughts”.
Similarly VanGogh also uses color to focus the audiences’ attention towards the hidden meaning in the work. Starry Night, while arguably one of the19th centuries most important works is also a work that deals with the backdrop as a focal point. The work shows an evening of bright stars that are depicted as huge circles in the nights’ sky amidst a sleeping town. While the work does not use many shades of color; the viewer is imparted with a sense of a quiet evening on the outskirts of town with nothing as far as the eye could see except for stars in the heavens. This work was painted during Mr. Vangogh’s time at the asylum at Saint-Remy. He did not make any references to this work in his frequent letters to Theo (his brother) but the impact is still discussed in forums today; one of the most remarkable asides is the fact that this was not painted from sight but from memory. Some believe that this is an actual painting of the constellation of Aries, the moon and Venus; a reconstruction from Griffith Park Observatory has been used to show that when both are aligned upon each other they bear a remarkable resemblance to one another (VanGoghGallery, 2002).
Another remarkable work that also bears a resemblance to Van Gogh’s Starry Night is the Wheat Field with Crows. The two works while very similar have two very distinctive connotations and feelings in them, in Wheat field with Crows I felt alone in a vast lonely field; it felt more of a solitary and empty loneliness as opposed to the feeling of the peaceful quiet portrayed in Starry Night. Some said that this work was VanGoghs suicide note put to canvas and others discouraged this negative approach to the work and favor a more positive outlook (Van Gogh Gallery, 2002). The viewer can interpret the paths to symbolize the many paths one can take in life; and due to mental illness VanGogh was suffering it was all the more real to him. The crows the most powerful symbol within the painting is a representation of death or devastation to most and depending on whether you are viewing the crows descending toward you or away from you can mean death approaching or in the latter departing. VanGoghs’ use of color and light brush stroke with a more contextual scene can definitively place it among the post-impressionistic works of the time.
While the works can be linked together with the same flowing style where there are no strong lines to separate one object from the other they are also different based upon their context. While impressionism dealt with a lighter side of life it seems that same use of color and style could also be used to relay those deeper messages littered throughout life that took upon the name Post-Impressionism. The use of color and light to impart the slight divisions among the different parts of the paintings I feel give it more of life of its own as opposed to the stark lines and dismal subject matter of prior time periods.