My Impression of Impressionism

Have you seen the Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, an exhibition on till the 11th of March @ the National Gallery Singapore ? Young Netra Prakash did, and recorded her visit in words and pictures. Read on …

A few days ago, I visited the Colours of Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery. It had numerous paintings by Monet, Renoir and Manet. Impressionism originated in Europe during the 19th century. It is a style of painting that depicts scenes from everyday life using short, quick strokes and different angles of light. It uses bold blends of colour and is a way for the artist to show his impression of the scene in front of him.

Here’s what my experience was like :

When I entered the first room, I was struck by so many different paintings … all in black, white and grey. As I went closer, I realised that the paintings weren’t done in smooth black paint. I learned that when Impressionism started, paintings were done in very dark colours. The artists mixed different primary and secondary colours to form black, white and grey shades. That’s why no two shades of black looked exactly the same.

Le Bain by Alfred Stevens
Le Bain by Alfred Stevens
 Clair de Lune sur le Port de Boulogne by Edouard Manet
Clair de Lune sur le Port de Boulogne by Edouard Manet

Two of the paintings I particularly liked were Le Bain (The Bath) by Alfred Stevens and Clair de Lune sur le Port de Boulogne (Moonlight over the Port of Boulogne) by Edouard Manet.

In the next room the paintings were blue and green. I read that Impressionism had started with black shades, moved on to blues and greens, and finally evolved into pinks and purples.

In the second room, I saw a stunning painting – La Seine à Port-Villez (The Seine at Port-Villez). I immediately wanted to know who the artist was. Of course, it was by Claude Monet, one of the most famous and talented Impressionists.


La Seine at Port Villez
La Seine à Port-Villez by Claude Monet

Once we saw the paintings with blues and greens, we moved on to the next section. I think that one was my favourite.

Here, we saw loads of paintings by Paul Signac. The specialty about them was that the whole painting was created by dots. When you look at the paintings from a distance, they seem … like any other. But when you go closer, you see the individual dots clearly. Blue and white dots for the sky and clouds, orange dots for the sun and green dots for the trees and bushes.

La Bouée Rouge Paul Signac

I really loved this painting of a castle – The Pope’s Palace in Avignon. It looks like it’s from a fairytale!

The Château des Papes, Avignon by Paul Signac

I liked the bright and bold blending of so many different colours and shades. You could actually see the artists’ brush strokes in the paintings. That was unique because most paintings I have seen look smooth – in these, you can actually imagine the artist painting them!

I’m very lucky to be able to see original artwork by wonderful artists like Monet – the exhibition even had one of his most famous works: The Water Lily Pond : Pink Harmony.

Water Lily Pond, Pink Harmony
The Water Lily Pond : Pink Harmony by Claude Monet
La Pie (The Magpie) by Claude Monet

I hope that one day I can see Van Goghs and Picassos too!

Colours of Impressionism tells the story of Impressionism through the colours that painters used at different stages in their careers. From the deep blacks of Manet’s Spanish-influenced paintings, to the green and blue landscapes that Cézanne and Monet painted outdoors, to the soft pinks of Renoir’s classical female figures, the exhibition traces the importance of colour to the Impressionists’ radical reshaping of painting in the 19th century.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see – Degas

Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge and SingaporeforKids believes in the importance of creativity and the necessity to think outside the box. Introducing children to various art forms and expressions is like new windows to the world.

Who knows what it will kindle, where it will take the child ?

Thanks for this, Netra.

Pix by Netra Prakash


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