3 things we can all learn from Impressionists
Did you know that Impressionists were once considered the anarchists of the art world? They were mocked by the classical art enthusiasts, their approach called childish and lacking professional training, (hey millennials, sounds familiar?) their works were refused for exhibition at classical Salon. Yet they managed to turn the art world upside down and shake things up, paving the way for more creatives to follow & explore their interests and change Art even further.
We are used to seeing Monet, Manet, Degas, and many other in some of the best galleries around the world, but when Impressionism was just being conceived they could not even get their first en plain air paintings exhibited. So what can anyone – from an ambitious millennial to a homemaker with 5 kids/dogs - learn from these badass guys who managed to grow, turn the tables on their obstacles and become some of the best-selling artists that changed the face of Art forever?
Camille Pissarro, Boulevard Monmartre, Spring
- They avoided beaten paths and learnt from other cultures.
Impressionists were the first to experiment with painting outside of the studio, aiming to capture the light and its transition. They also drew inspiration from a culture far, far away- learning compositional tricks from the famous Japanese wood prints. The result, as time shows was worth overcoming a lack of approval by the mainstream Art society. Do not despair if the majority of people cannot yet understand your vision or work, explore the world around you and you will find inspiration where you least expect it.
- They fought to get their name out there.
Long before social media and networking events these guys knew the importance of getting your voice heard. When all traditional platforms failed to recognise this need, Impressionists created their own platform – Salon des Refuses. These guys forced a classics-loving Napoleon III to approve an alternative art movement and let it be exhibited on official grounds. So go polish your Linkedin & elevator pitch, arrange those networking meetings and post about the great work you do!
- They were not waiting for someone to solve their problems & legitimise their work
Having faced multiple rejections by the Salon – official authority on what is considered art at that time- Impressionists persevered in legitimising their work and having an official exhibition for the public. Receiving bad press (and we mean, really bad press) also did not stop them from developing their skills, art and sharing it with the public. Being some of many who were tired of classical and worn-out motives and themes, Impressionists channelled social frustration and thirst for something new. If something inspires or pisses you off that much, do not listen to close-minded people not willing to embrace change. Go make stuff happen!
As you might have noticed by now, even the most respectable, talented and mightiest have their battles to fight from time to time. Do not be discouraged by the obstacles you face, get discouraged when you find yourself in a rot or following a beaten path. It’s a sure way to a lifelong addiction to shrinks and antidepressants.
Gompertz, W. (2016). What are you looking at? 150 years of Modern Art in the blink of an eye. 2nd edition, London: Penguin Random House.
Courtauld Gallery London: http://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery