In this gallery the paintings were trying to articulate the dramatic impact of technology development on the minds of the leading-edge artists. In this gallery the paintings were trying to articulate the dramatic impact of technology development on the minds of the leading-edge artists. In this case the Impressionists and the Post Impressionists starting in the 1860s. You as the viewer are being asked to think about the impact, on Claude Monet for example, of factories suddenly springing up along with steam locomotives chugging around the countryside and the major cities. For the Impressionists this was really steam and for the Post Impressionists the core technology was primarily electricity. It was not simply the talent of the artists which made them explode into the zeitgeist of the day – it was their yelling visually “look – the world is changing incredibly fast.” There were talented artists who chose to paint other things – history has either ignored them or completely forgotten them as a direct result.
When you are looking at steam billowing out of smokestacks – you are seeing the light being affected as it is filtered through the steam. Steam technology (factories, trains, steamships) was the primary driver for the optical theory the Impressionists adopted as the core of what the school of Impressionism was. Technology can be almost categorically said to have directly affected the Impressionists where it was subconsciously or otherwise.
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