Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Influences part 19: Berthe Morisot

My recent finger paintings (previous post) have been inspired by the Impressionist movement of the late 19th century, which challenged pre-existing ideals, "emphasized colour to express form and create mood" (Robinson, M. quoted in Pickeral, T. 2007), and celebrated modernity. Key figures from the Impressionist movement include: Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cezanne, but the Impressionist that most influences my finger paintings just now is Berthe Morisot.

Morisot's work had its first of several appearances at the prestigious Salon de Paris in 1864 when she was 23 years old. In 1868 she formed a close friendship with Edouard Manet (another artist associated with the Impressionists), and they influenced each others development equally. Their relationship remained close when Morisot married Manet's brother in 1874 - the same year that the Impressionists had their first exhibition (which Morisot was part of).
Her artworks tend to focus on daily experiences of domestic life because her gender & class were restricted from urban settings and nude figures due to the culture. As a result of this much of Morisot's work portrays the comfort of women's domestic life, much like fellow female Impressionist, Mary Cassatt.

What I admire about Morisot's work is the careful use of colours, combined with the soft brushstrokes, which gives her paintings a subtle vibrancy that enriches the whole image without distracting from the calm, feminine subject matter.
For the past few weeks I have been collecting a series of Morisot paintings from the Internet and examining her style as the primary influence for my finger paintings.
My painting style so far is a lot bolder and nowhere near as subtle/beautiful as those of Morisot, so it may be regarded as ridiculous to link her with my paintings; but then again, it never was my intention to closely copy her style - I simply use her work as an influence so that I avoid using a tighter/controlled painting style or end up with a carefully painted image that tries to imitate reality.
My reason for this is that after studying animation at Edinburgh College of Art for the last 4 years and researching/writing several essays that dismiss 'photo-realistic' art styles, I'm now reluctant to admire any style of art that tries to imitate a photo (or real life) because I feel that this style of art rarely lives up to the photo/real object that it is trying to imitate, so therefore more expressive/looser styles of art can offer a greater amount of visual interest for its audience.

- Robinson, M. quoted in Pickeral, T. Impressionism. Flame Tree Publishing, London, 2007. Pg 11.
- Olga's Gallery. Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). Available at <http://www.abcgallery.com/M/morisot/morisot.html>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].
- Webmuseum, Paris. Berthe Morisot. Available at <http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/morisot/>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].
- Wikipedia. Berthe Morisot. Available at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berthe_Morisot>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you for introducing me to this Berthe Morisot painting, Andy - it is very beautiful!


Leave a comment