Monet and the impressionists

Monet and the impressionists

Springboard "Salon de Paris"

Until 1874 French artists only had one way to present their art to a wide audience: by submitting works to the "Salon de Paris." A jury would then decide which pieces were approved, and which weren't. After having their work continually rejected, a group of 30 artists - including Renoir, Monet, Cézanne and Sisley - broke away and organized their own exhibition.

Monet and the impressionists

Paris, the art metropolis

The group organized eight independent exhibitions up to 1886, where many artworks were sold. The young artists hoped to free themselves and their work from France's state-controlled art market. The exhibitions were major events in the rapidly-changing metropolis of Paris, then the center of the art world.

Monet and the impressionists

Back to nature

The impressionists were landscape painters. To transfer their impressions as true as possible to canvas and to exactly replicate natural light conditions, they painted directly in nature. One popular spot and motif for these young painters - including Claude Monet - was Fontainebleau forest, south of Paris.

Monet and the impressionists

Light and color

The artists developed an entirely new understanding and concept of art. In a departure from classicism, they treated color and light with greater importance than line and symmetry. In his painting "The Peach Glass" from 1866, Monet explores the various effects of fruit: in a glass jar, on a marble tabletop and in the reflection.

Monet and the impressionists

Role model Manet

Although Édouard Manet's works were never included in the popular impressionist exhibitions, his influence on the artists - especially on Monet - is indisputable. Manet befriended the impressionists but didn't include himself in their ranks. Eight years older than Monet, he created a number of motifs that the younger artist used as models.

Monet and the impressionists

Scandalous picture

Considered the young Monet's most significant work, "The Luncheon" was a scandal. It was more than two meters high, a format traditionally reserved for historical painting. And it depicted an everyday scene that included Monet's girlfriend Camille and their illegitimate son - an unapologetic affront in the bourgeois France of 1869.

Monet and the impressionists

New motifs

At first glance, smoke is the only thing one can discern here. Monet's "Saint-Lazare Station" shows industrial change in the 19th century. Rather than using mythological or religious motifs, impressionists sourced their subjects from their immediate environment. Their motifs center on nature and everyday life.

Monet and the impressionists

Joie de vivre àl la Renoir

Not all impressionist painters focused exclusively on landscapes or the industrial revolution in big cities. Auguste Renoir's paintings showed life in high society and the privileged existence of the upper class: ladies in orchestra pits and theater boxes, or - here - simply strolling gracefully with an umbrella in the garden.

Monet and the impressionists

Mood over matter

The importance of the subject diminishes further with Monet over the years - instead he emphasizes the atmosphere of a particular scene. The Saint-Lazare train station seems to almost disappear in this painting of 1877. Instead, fog and smoke red and blue hues dominate Monet's impression of the station building.

Monet and the impressionists

Paris in Frankfurt

The Städel Museum was the first in Germany to purchase French impressionist art and has built up an impressive collection since 1899. The current exhibition displays around 100 works from museums around the world, including Pissaro's "Rue de Gisors." The exhibition runs until June 21, 2015.

The impressionists were pioneers of modernism. Claude Monet is not only the most important of these artists, but also the most popular. An exhibition at Frankfurt's Städel Museum explores the origins of the movement.