Impressionism: Paint and Politics


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John House

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A new perspective on Impressionist art that offers revealing, fresh interpretations of familiar paintings

In this handsome book, a leading authority on Impressionist painting offers a new view of this admired and immensely popular art form. John House examines the style and technique, subject matter and imagery, exhibiting and marketing strategies, and social, political, and ideological contexts of Impressionism in light of the perspectives that have been brought to it in the last twenty years. When all of these diverse approaches are taken into account, he argues, Impressionism can be seen as a movement that challenged both artistic and political authority with its uncompromisingly modern subject matter and its determinedly secular worldview.

Moving from the late 1860s to the early 1880s, House analyzes the paintings and career strategies of the leading Impressionist artists, pointing out the ways in which they countered the dominant conventions of the contemporary art world and evolved their distinctive and immediately recognizable manner of painting. Focusing closely on the technique, composition, and imagery of the paintings themselves and combining this fresh appraisal with recent historical studies of Impressionism, House explores how pictorial style could generate social and political meanings and opens new ways of looking at this luminous art.

John House is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. He is the author of, among other works, Monet: Nature into Art, published by Yale University Press.

“A fresh look at the phenomenon of French impressionism, Paint and Politics explores the movement in terms of a larger socio-politico-economic context, showing how the new painting was both changed by and made changes to the way we look at art. Compelling.”—Art Times


“Scholarly and argumentative in its examination of the sheer complexity of the style.”—The Sunday Times

“In this important book, House, an eminent Courtauld Institute art historian and expert on Impressionism, examines the movement’s history from the late 1860s (the Écoles des Batignolles) to the mid-1880s (the last group exhibit) in the light of new historical approaches and perspectives: style, technique, subject matter, institutional and commercial contexts, reponses by critics, and the social, political, and ideological values expressed by the art.”—Choice

ISBN: 9780300102406
Publication Date: August 11, 2004
264 pages, 9 x 11
130 b/w + 62 color illus.
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