Impressionism is an extremely unusual art form in one main respect: despite the fact that the style was first developed in the late 19th century, you can still find a vibrant and active community of artists working in the style today. I've been trying to think of another, but there doesn't seem to be any other genre that has stayed so firmly current throughout history.
What is it that makes Impressionism so special?
A lot of art movements start as a reaction to something that came before. At the time the Impressionist style was first starting to be used by artists, the traditional art of the day was more about deliberate realism in terms of forms and colors. Huge oil paintings depicting scenes in loving detail, all true to form (usually - there were always a few outliers, of course), with carefully balanced perspective, lighting, and size.
There was very little creative expression in these forms of painting, but they were exactly what the people wanted - and at the time, it was a lot harder for an artist to make it alone without a wealthy patron who supplied artists with materials and sometimes even room and board. All that was set to change.
Artists began to work without patrons, and their creativity became more and more unrestrained and they began to explore more creative and interpretive painting styles. They could paint their impressions of scenes, rather than faithfully reconstructing them. Artists finally began to feel free in their creative interpretations, and you can see how important this idea became over time.
So how does that stay relevant now? Surely the French Académie des Beaux-Arts isn't going to define good art as realistic now, is it? Creativity thrives and flourishes! You're absolutely right, of course - but what about one major technological advance: the camera.
It's now possible to capture a scene exactly as it appears to you, with no deviations whatsoever. In a world where that is possible, isn't creative interpretation even more valuable now than ever? Absolutely!!! I believe that this is the real reason that people will continue to love Impressionist styles - not to mention the fact that they're exquisitely beautiful.
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