Time & Location
22 May 2022, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Location is TBD
About the event
En plein air, a French phrase meaning "in the open air," describes the process of painting a landscape outdoors, though the phrase has also been applied to the resulting works. The term defines both a simple technical approach and a whole artistic credo: of truth to sensory reality, a refusal to mythologize or fictionalize landscape, and a commitment to the idea of the artist as creative laborer rather than exulted master. Painting in the open air is recorded as far back as the Renaissance.
Key Ideas & Accomplishments
- Painting en plein air allowed artists to capture the emotional and sensory dimensions of a particular landscape at a particular moment in time. It thus expressed a new spirit of spontaneity and truth to personal impulse within art. The ongoing popularity of nineteenth-century plein air painting today - as compared to academic historical paintings from the same period, for example - shows how the technique allowed artists to communicate directly to viewers, without intellectual artifice.
- Painting en plein air became particularly associated with the Impressionist movement, although it had been pioneered by earlier generations of artists, from English Romantic painters such as John Constable to the Barbizon School of central France. For that reason, en plein air painting often signifies a commitment to the loose, light, quick brushwork that marks out the Impressionist approach.
- Considered as an ethos rather than a technique, plein air painting casts a huge shadow over modern art as a whole, because it signified the honest, unadorned depiction of reality, and was thus often bound up with radical formal or social commitments. In the work of Courbet and Cézanne, for example, painting en plein air stood for cultural and stylistic revolution respectively, though was the latter link that became more influential, given Cézanne's huge influence on Cubism.
- The rise of painting en plein air across the nineteenth century was coextensive with the rise of landscape painting as a legitimate artistic genre. In the early nineteenth century, landscapes were only a worthy subject of attention if they provided the backdrop to a mythological or historical tableau. By the end of that century, it was a truism that landscapes. particularly natural landscapes, were worthy of attention in their own right.
Taken from: The Art Story