Monet and van Gogh

No two artists can alone be considered responsible for the modern art movement, but both Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Claude Monet (1840-1926) led two very distinct groups of artists out of the world we know as classical art. Though their styles differ greatly, they are both equally responsible for helping to shape the direction painting would go over the following century.
Monet and van Gogh both left us with prolific bodies of work each representing
their own view of life through their work on canvas and in their thoughts and words. Through their paintings, writings and letters we have been fortunate enough to understand both men’s struggle for recognition as artists in a period when classicism was still held as the highest form of art. Aside from their shared struggle for acceptance as progressive artists-and perhaps an equal fascination with Japanese block prints-they are no closer to being alike than an apple and a grapefruit.
Though Monet did not come from a wealthy family, he became involved with a group of peers that were well educated or part of the French aristocracy. The group, consisting of Degas, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro among others, all had one thing in common.
They all cast aside tradition to bring to the heart of painting something real, immediate, fleeting and true to what they saw at the moment.
In Manet’s painting, Parisians Enjoying the Parc Monceau, 1878, we are given just that. He has stopped a moment in time when the high society is out, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, sitting on a bench or strolling through the park. The scene is set so delicately atfirst glance, but upon closer inspection of the canvas, we find authoritative slashing strokes of oil paint, each one intended and defining this moment.
From the bottom right of the 28 x 21 inch canvas comes a path which arcs up to the left and disappears behind a group of people walking. In the lower left foreground is a patch of grass where…


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