The Impressionists – Waldemar Januszczak


Waldemar Januszczak has put together four impressive, 1 hour-long programmes on the painting movement christened ‘The Impressionists’ in a derisory review by an art critic.

It’s fascinating to learn that ‘The Impressionists’ were the ‘bad boys’ of art back in the 19th century and changed art in a radical and dynamic way hitherto unknown.  Strange that, looking at their work today, we all probably see beautiful, light colourful pictures of the social elite enjoying themselves and luminous landscapes and seascapes.  But when they were produced their meanings were subversive, because although they apparently pictured the elite, they in fact quite often pictured the girls and their clients from the sex trade of Paris, mocked and bucked what was considered the ‘proper’ painting style the ruling board members of the art world, who controlled the French art scene, thought and practised as the route all art should, and did up until then, take.

Emerging in the 1870’s in Paris, the founders and leaders of this movement weren’t content to accept that a self-perpetuating governing body of art could decide that painting should always reinvent itself in its own image every generation and over a period of about 50 years, until the death of Monet in 1926, gave us the wonders we now look upon as possibly the most influential movement in art since the Renaissance.

I, like many others, admire the beautiful colours and their luminous qualities, the gaiety and the sense of a dream-like impression.  To be able to capture the same aspects of these pictures with a camera isn’t entirely possible of course as brushwork also plays an integral part of their construction.  But I’ve found at least one photographer who has come very close,  the work of Eva Polak has a beautiful reminiscence of the masters’ work.

What influence has this had on photography?  With my limited knowledge I’m personally not sure,  but I have read about how photography influenced the Impressionists,, then, with Eva Polaks’ work as well, I begin to believe that I can create this type of work too and see if my attempts can have any influence on contemporary photography.


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