A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art

By Ian Chilvers | Go to book overview

I

Ibbotson, Diane. See SUPERREALISM.

ICA. See INSTITUTE OF COMTEMPORARY ARTS.

Idea art. See CONCEPTUAL ART.

Imagist. See ABSTRACT IMAGISTS.

Immaculates. See PRECISIONISM.

Immendorff, Jörg. See NEO-EXPRESSIONISM.

Imperial War Museum , London. See OFFICIAL WAR ART.

Impossible art. See ARTE POVERA.

Impressionism. A movement in painting that originated in France in the 1860s and had an enormous impact on Western art over the following half century. As an organized movement, Impressionism was purely a French phenomenon, but many of its ideas and practices were adopted in other countries, and by the turn of the century it was a dominant influence on avant-garde art in Europe (and also in the USA and Australia). In essence, its effect was to undermine the authority of large, formal, highly finished paintings in favour of works that more immediately expressed the artist's personality and response to the world.

The nucleus of the Impressionist group was formed in the 1860s, and the name was coined facetiously by a reviewer of the first joint exhibition, held in Paris in 1874. Seven more Impressionist exhibitions followed, the last in 1886, by which time the group was beginning to lose its cohesion (it was in any case never formally structured). The central figures (in alphabetical order) were Paul *Cézanne; Edgar *Degas; Édouard Manet ( 1832-83), although he never exhibited in the group shows; Claude *Monet; Camille *Pissarro; Pierre-Auguste *Renoir; and Alfred Sisley ( 1839-99). The minor figures included Armand *Guillaumin, who was the last survivor of those who showed in the 1874 exhibition, dying in 1927, the year after Monet. These painters differed from each other in many ways, but they were united in rebelling against academic conventions to try to depict their surroundings with spontaneity and freshness, capturing an 'impression' of what the eye sees at a particular moment, rather than a detailed record of appearances. Their archetypal subject was landscape (and painting out of doors, directly from nature, was one of the key characteristics of the movement), but they treated many other subjects, notably ones involving everyday city life.

The Impressionists were at first generally received with suspicion, bewilderment, or abuse (although the critical response was not as one-sided as is sometimes suggested). To most observers, their vigorous brushwork looked sloppy and unfinished, and their colours seemed garish and unnatural. Among conservative artists and critics, this continued to be the prevailing view for many years. For example, when the painter Gustave Caillebotte ( 1848-94) left his superb Impressionist collection to the French nation, the academic painter and sculptor Jean-Leon Gérome ( 1824-1904) wrote that 'For the Government to accept such filth, there would have to be a great moral slackening', and at about the same time in England, Sir Edward *Poynter expressed a similar disdain, although in more temperate language. In more sympathetic circles, however, the Impressionists began achieving substantial success in the 1880s (helped by the dedicated promotion of *Durand-Ruel), and during the 1890s their influence began to be widely felt. Few artists outside France adopted Impressionism wholesale, but many lightened their palettes and loosened their brushwork as they synthesized

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A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • A 1
  • B 46
  • C 106
  • D 154
  • E 189
  • F 204
  • G 228
  • H 264
  • I 293
  • J 299
  • K 308
  • L 332
  • M 360
  • N 426
  • O 450
  • P 461
  • Q 502
  • R 503
  • S 540
  • T 605
  • U 626
  • V 631
  • W 646
  • X 663
  • Y 665
  • Z 667
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