Plein Air Art - Looking Back (Part 4) / by Jeannine Cook

I certainly got enthusiastic about the long development of plein air art creation, but since I have been increasingly fascinated by its evolution, I wanted to share my interest.  This is Part 4 of the series, with the first three parts already published on my blog.

 

Today, everyone thinks of plein air painting originating with the Impressionists, but they were perhaps more the best advocates and practitioners of this genre. In the 1840s, oil paints began to be available in tubes, versus pigments that had to be ground and mixed by the artist, so the practical aspects of outdoors painting were greatly simplified. Inevitably, at first, the Impressionists' paintings were regarded with great reticence by the public, but eventually - well, we all know the rest of that story!  Today, prices at auction of a Claude Monet, for instance, are almost beyond belief, and even in Monet's lifetime, he was earning huge amounts of money towards the middle and end of his life. Monet made much of always working out of doors, but he did indeed finish up and titivate his plein air canvases in his large studio.

 Spring (Fruit Trees in Bloom), 1873,, oil on canvas, Claude Monet, Metropolitan Museum

Spring (Fruit Trees in Bloom), 1873,, oil on canvas, Claude Monet, Metropolitan Museum

Others, today revered, such as Pisarro, Sisley, or even Berthe Morisot and later, Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh, were not always so financially successful.  Nonetheless,  they continued to work in all sorts of conditions and weather outdoors.

 The Cabbage Field, Pontoise, 1875 oil on canvas, Camille Pisarro, Museo Thyssen, Madrid, Collecion CarmenThyssen Bornemisza

The Cabbage Field, Pontoise, 1875 oil on canvas, Camille Pisarro, Museo Thyssen, Madrid, Collecion CarmenThyssen Bornemisza

 Autumn - Banks of the Seine near Bougival, 1873, oil on canvas, Alfred Sisley, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

Autumn - Banks of the Seine near Bougival, 1873, oil on canvas, Alfred Sisley, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

So many others followed, all over Europe and beyond: Bonnard, Vuillard, Braque, Matisse,  Derain and Dufy, for example, in France. 

 The Dippinig Path, oil on canvas, c. 1922, Pierre Bonnard, Museum Thyssen, Madrid, Collecion CarmenThyssen Bornemisza

The Dippinig Path, oil on canvas, c. 1922, Pierre Bonnard, Museum Thyssen, Madrid, Collecion CarmenThyssen Bornemisza

 Landscape at Collioure, 1905, Henri Matisse, .oil on canvas, MOMA, New York

Landscape at Collioure, 1905, Henri Matisse, .oil on canvas, MOMA, New York

 Garden in Cannes, 1901, Edward Vuillard,  private collection

Garden in Cannes, 1901, Edward Vuillard,  private collection

 Coastal Landscape. 1906.oil on canvas.Andre Derain.

Coastal Landscape. 1906.oil on canvas.Andre Derain.

 Seascape, L'Estaque,  1906, Georges Braque, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

Seascape, L'Estaque,  1906, Georges Braque, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

As the later plein air artists worked more and more in the brilliant Mediterranean light, they responded with brighter and brighter colours.  No wonder they were called Les Fauves!

Soon many of the Expressionists and the Die Brucke artists were working outdoors as well in Germany and beyond. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Edvard Munch and Gabriele Muenter are just some whose vigorous work I recently saw in the Thyssen Museum in Madrid.

 Landscape with Chestnut Tree, 1913, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, oil on canvas, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

Landscape with Chestnut Tree, 1913, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, oil on canvas, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

 View from her Brother's house in Bonn, 1908. Gabriele Muenter, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

View from her Brother's house in Bonn, 1908. Gabriele Muenter, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

 Albufera, 1909, oil on canvas, Max Pechstein, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

Albufera, 1909, oil on canvas, Max Pechstein, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

 Geese in an Orchard, c.1911, oil on canvas, Edvard Munch, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

Geese in an Orchard, c.1911, oil on canvas, Edvard Munch, Museo Thyssen, Madrid

So many wonderful plein air artists to celebrate and relate to as the years roll along.  As the late 19th and 20th centuries demonstrate, there were many, many artists out and about working in all conditions, inspired by landscapes intimate or wide-sweeping.

 

One more instalment of this long blog entry on Plein Air Art - Looking Back to come.  Soon!