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Art 101 Module 4: The Impressionists (Van Gogh) (Reaction Paper Sample)


(Please Answer Discusion Questions) Vincent Van Gogh painted "The Bedroom" in 1889. The image can be found at:
His painting is considered 'Post-impressionist', yet he clearly borrows from and relates to the 'Impressionists'. In this TD, there are multitudes of ways you can think and write about Van Gogh's painting. Some possible questions you could pursue are: Why did he chose to paint an empty bedroom and what kind of emotions does this convey? How are the formal elements working in this painting (the thickness of the paint, the crookedness of the line, the slanting of the horizon, the saturation of colors)? How does the subject matter and/or the formal qualities differ from the Impressionists, such as Monet? What speculations can you make about Van Gogh's life and the way this painting looks?
Image of Monet’s Gare St. Lazare, 1877:
Image of Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte:
With the wake of the industrial revolution, the rise of urban cities, and the advent of technologies such as photography and railway transportation, how people saw and experienced the world fundamentally changed. Physical realities were no longer taken as a given. Rather, they can be manipulated and broken apart to show movement and light. These transitory elements become the subject of artworks in their own right and reflect the sense of the strangeness and instability indicative of modernity. In this case study, you will compare Impressionist Claude Monet’s Gare St. Lazare with Post-Impressionist Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on the Grande Jatte. Both represent modern life in Paris and reflect the massive changes brought on by modern technology and the industrial revolution. You will need to pay close attention to formal qualities—brushwork, light, shadow and color—in order to relate these elements to the experience of modern life. Use the required course materials to help you discuss, briefly, (1) the history of Impressionism and these two artists in particular, (2) the different ways these artists chose to convey the modern experience (in content and in form), and (3) how paint, brushwork, light, and color (formal qualities) become, in part, the subject of the paintings. (*Paint is no longer just used to depict reality; paint (line, space, brushwork, color, light) becomes a subject on its own.)
It is important to note that this assignment is your fourth encounter in thinking and writing about Art History and Art Criticism, so it is expected that you have had some practice and are ready for this assignment. The required course materials under “How To Write About Art: Art Criticism and Formal Analysis” will continue to be an essential reference point in order to master these skills.
Assignment Expectations
An explanation of the values—influences, themes, techniques, subjects—characteristic of the period or style under study.
Some information about how the social, political, or religious history of the period influenced its art and artists.
Biographical information about the artist whose work is assigned or (in SLP assignments) chosen for reflection.
Here are five keys to writing a great case assignment! For each case paper in this course, please:
Make sure you fully address the case assignment prompt- don't just describe the painting and don’t forget to ‘really look’ at the painting. 
Be sure to respond to the expectations stated under "Learning Outcomes" in the Syllabus.
Apply ideas from the background readings to your analysis and discussion of the case assignment prompt.
Write, at minimum, three to four pages, not including images or references.
Include a separate cover page that includes your name, the course name, the module, and assignment name.
Set your format to 1" margins on all four sides, 12-point font, double spaced.
Include a separate cover AND reference page at the end that includes every website and article on which you base your information and analysis. In the reference list, please note that a URL with no additional information is not a complete reference. Over time, link root will make any URL useless. Each reference should contain all the information a reader would need to find the source.


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Part 1
In the painting (The bedroom, 1889), Van Gogh illustrates how formal qualities such as line, color, brushwork and others of his decoration depict his subjective response to the idea he wants to convey to the viewers (Lewis, 2007). The bedroom environment was part of a designing plan of Von Gogh’s new house, which was located in Arles where he had settled from Paris during 1888. He called his new home as “The Studio of the South” with the intention that his artists and his friends including his brother (Theo) would visit or live there. Van Gogh hoped that though, nobody is there in the room; it would be hardly empty.
Van Gogh’s painting: The bedroom, 1889
Brodskala (2010) explains that Van Gogh created the space (the bedroom) that he regarded as one of the greatest significant rooms in his new house. His interest in art is depicted by the landscapes and pictures of the friends he hanged on the walls. There are also Japanese prints, which are a great source of inspiration. The wooden bed highlights a sense of tranquility and solidity. Simple clothing hang behind the bed depicts his poverty. Lively color is vital for him, and according to him, color can do anything. The walls are pale violet; chairs and the bed are yellow with fresh butter, pillows and sheets are greenish citrons and the window is green. The whole space depicts the artist’s presence which is conveyed through his paint applications.
Van Gogh designed this bedroom with the intention for it to be ready for Theo (his brother) including other artists to live or visit there. In the painting, Van Gogh considered everything with the room (like the pictures, chairs, and others) as characters that depict appearance of tranquility, durability and solidity (Bingham, 2009). Van Gogh’s artwork is based on the post-impressionist style, and therefore is different from Claude’s work which is impressionist decoration. Van Gogh’s work is more emotionally based than Claude’s artwork. Van Gogh wanted to depict intellect, visual and emotional imagery. Van Gosh was a great post-impressionist whose artwork was known of emotional impact including vivid colors. His artwork showed his condition of mental sickness which he expressed to viewers in the form of painting.
On the other hand, Claude Monet was one of the great impressionists. He devotedly applied impressionist style to study not only naturalism, but also the effect of color and light on the nature. Monet was one of the impressionist artists who were not interested of painting mythological subject matters (Lewis, 2007). Impressionist artists were interested in painting what they see in a practical sense. The urbanization of Paris greatly inspired Monet, and this was the reason he created the artwork.
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Monet’s Gare Saint Lazare
In his portrait (Gare Saint Lazare), Monet painted a train puffing smoke while arriving in a railway station. It is an outdoor painting showing plein air. There are railroad tracks that run foreground and background of the painting. O’Reilly (2001) presents that the artwork is symmetrically balanced having one train departing while another train is arriving. Monet emphasized the arriving train due to the smoking ejecting out of it. There are people who stand beside the two trains, and there are three train attendants on the rail tracks.
Based on his work “the bedroom, 1889”, it can be speculated that Van Gogh struggled many hardships during his life. He often experienced mental and emotional turmoil; the painting suggests he craved for harmony (Brodskala, 2010). The manner in which he designed the furniture highlights its solidity. The upwards slant of the bed and floor and the manner pictures are tilted away from the wall develops a sense of instability and discloses his internal struggles.
Part 2
The “Gare Saint Lazare” illustrates Monet’s impressionist work. Impressionism was a major artistic movement in late 19th and early 20th centuries. The main distinct feature of impressionism was the need to objectively and accurately create visual reality based on the effect of light and color. Monet was good in all genres, though his interest was focused on outdoor painting and landscape painting. He created excellent works and one of the greatest landscape artists. Lewis (2007) views that Monet was among the impressionists who started painting scenes and landscapes from modern suburban and urban life in pure and brilliant colors. In his painting, “Gare Saint Lazare,” Monet focused on scientific observation of light and color; he observed how sunlight affects the landscape.
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Monet’s Gare Saint Lazare
Monet used blend of colors to catch viewers’ eyes. This can be seen especially on the ground and ceiling of the station. Monet painted the ceiling using a mossy green color while he applied blues, browns and reds to develop overall color. He used grays and blushes to depict that it is a cloudy overcast day. Monet applied an impasto technique to apply thick paints to create a rough surface. This is a realist painting as Monet painted precisely what appears around him during that time. The painting appears interesting because of Monet’s incorporation of characteristics of light and unusual colors.
George Seurat was aged only 26 when he first exhibited “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte-1884” at the final impressionist exhibition during 1886 (Clement, 1999). The composition and technique that Seurat used...
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