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The Luminous Vibrations of Life (or The Triumph of la Peinture Claire)

By Béa Aaronson

Last week, we saw and understood how the Impressionist revolution took place. In this second part, we shall examine more closely the works of each individual painter, their similarities and their differences, and most of all I shall try to convey their crazed obsession in fixing on canvas those fleeting appearances which daunted painters before them, like light, water, crowds, rain, snow, and smoke, all living within the space of movement. I shall also make obvious the shift from the dark palette of Academic Salon painting to the light Impressionist palette, with its array of pure, mostly undiluted colors.


“Impressionism: A Retinal Reality of the Ephemeral, Part Two:
The Luminous Vibrations of Life
(or The Triumph of la Peinture Claire)”
Mon, Nov 21, 4pm
The Jewish Cultural Center of San Miguel
Calle de las Moras 47 (corner of Cinco de Mayo)
For reservations call 415 185 9191
or email us at
150 pesos per person

Just to refresh your memory, we shall look at Camille Pissarro, the true father and generous soul of Impressionism, the poet of nature; Edouard Manet, the painter of modern life, with his early Spanish tinge; Eva Gonzalès, Manet’s model and pupil, whose exquisite brushstroke will charm you; Berthe Morisot, the feminine caress of Impressionism, with her tender world of women, mothers, and children; Mary Cassatt, Degas’s close friend and protégée, another caress in the Impressionist world, yet striving for force and truth, not sweetness, sentimentality, or romance; Alfred Sisley, the all too often forgotten poet of nature, with his unmistakable snow and rain effects; Edgar Degas, with his nervous draftsmanship of racing horses and dazzling colorful flower-like dancers and tutus; Jean Frédéric Bazille, another forgotten Impressionist, in love with nature and the transient pleasures of life, recognizable by his sharp rendering of light; Armand Guillaumin, who never achieved the fame of his fellow Impressionists, yet, as you will discover, demonstrates the visionary strength of Monet and also paved the way to fauvism; Gustave Caillebotte, most celebrated for his more socially angled vision of urban Paris; Auguste Renoir, with the saccharine voluptuousness of his women’s flesh, and his dappling effects of light; and of course, Claude Monet, the eye in movement, the quintessential Impressionist.

One might ask why I did not include Paul Cézanne? He just flirted for a short while with the Impressionist gang. Their quest for the fugitive and the ephemeral did not excite him in the least. He was more interested in the subliminal, almost mathematical permanence of nature, more in the vein of a Nicolas Poussin!

In this second part of my Impressionist adventure, I invite you to savor the pleasures of a lost world …  a world of luncheons on the grass, cabaret life, and beach picnics was upstaging—and downright discarding—the foppish condescendence of a waning aristocracy, a world where ordinary people were at long last able to enjoy the pleasures of life. The Impressionists help us realize how little we truly understand happiness.


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