Tell me, do you know what these names have in common?
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Oscar-Claude Monet.
If you would have asked me a few years ago, I could tell you they were artists but nothing more. And if you guessed that same thing, you're right.
Yet, they're not just any artist.
Theses men spearheaded The Impressionism Movement.
A movement that brought a fresh perspective to the artistic world, with methods unique enough to become its own genre of art.
The picture above is a Monet.
When Monet showed his first painting, named Impressions, to the art community in Paris, surprisingly, it was ridiculed and taken as nothing more than scribbles from a child's hand, insulting his talent and ability. They felt it was unfinished.
Let me give some background…
The art communities in Paris were so intrenched and unreceptive to anything other than traditional French paintings. Something they were working hard to preserve. Monet's style was evolving and couldn't have been more different.
Traditional French paintings were meticulous and labored over, not one small detail left out. There were specific methods and standards that were religiously adhered to and taught. Not just that, they only painted portraits, historical events and religious events.
Monet and friends were uninterested, indifferent and unenthusiastic about practicing and preserving traditional French art. After being trained under the leadership of modern teachers, they discovered a new approach to painting. They threw out tradition and embraced their own creativity.
Instead of painting in a studio like the current artists strictly followed, they loved painting in the open air with natural light.
Instead of painting only portraits and events, they loved painting landscapes and nature.
Instead of making sketches before painting, they would just apply the paint straight onto the canvas with no prior outlines.
Instead of being so precise about every detail, they painted more to give an impression.
Colors were no longer blended perfectly together, they were painted side by side showing their true contrast, and hardly any dark colors were used.
Everything that the art community had adorned, the Impressionism creators had abandoned.
Year after year they tried to gain acceptance in the art community of Paris by submitting their work for exhibitions, but they were continually let down. Either they were not accepted, or they were placed in the worst parts of the shows, giving no opportunity for recognition.
They went through the fire of grueling opinions of the art juries, the discouragement, the misunderstandings, the belittling, the looks, and the opinions of other.
They were getting no where by relentlessly trying to fit into a system that never was going to change.
Yet, they kept painting. They kept creating. They kept dreaming.
And still, they didn't give up.
Any human being would have give up by this point. It takes gumption and guts to do wha they did.
While it could have seemed like this was their end — I mean how much could they take, this was in fact their launching point — their turning point.
They thought, If the Parisian Jury wouldn’t take their work seriously, then they were going to go to where it would be.
And that “space” didn’t exist yet. So they thought, “we will create our own exhibition”
An exhibition showcasing new styles of art.
Their first production astounded the art juries in Paris as the audience took off like wildfire. People from around the world would eventually come to view and purchase the Impressionism pieces. A little rejected exhibition, unbeknownst to them, would showcase some the greatest paintings of our time.
Despite the stiffness of the art community, Monet and friends voice was finally heard. They did not give up and because of it, they won.
Now, it's their art work that hangs in famous art galleries today, hundreds of years later, having a monetary value in the millions.
To think those who turned them down and called their art work “child’s work,” ironically enough, history cannot even recall their names. But Monet? Who doesn’t know that name.
What a moving story.
It makes me think... It makes me wonder... wonder where they gathered the strength to push forward. I wonder where they drew the courage when all they felt was discouragement. I wonder where they turned to when everyone one turned from them, while their reputation as artists were hanging by a shoe string.
Maybe, was it a dissatisfaction that compelled them to chase a dream no matter the cost?
Was if because they were tired of doing the same-old?
Had it become too much, that what once was considered a joy, the art of of painting, had now become a prison? The prison of stifled creativity.
Did the opposition they face not compare to the greater frustration they felt inside, that trying to blend in was like death to their soul?
Even though years later, they are considered art geniuses, in the moment of it all, I wonder how hard it must have been... To fight for it all and never truly be received by the art community in Paris. Maybe they even felt like they failed.
After all, they didn't have the luxury to know that years down the road their pieces would woe and win the world. That their whimsical, abstract, colorful pieces would eventually take stand in the best spots in art galleries. That what was once was scoffed at, is now worth millions. And that those who discourage Monet, cannot be named nor remembered.
For Monet and friends, loosing their uniqueness was like death to their soul. A sacrifice they were not willing to make. They believed enough in their creation, enough to not back down from being their authentic selves.
Now, we celebrate their legacy. We flock to view their work. People stand in awe and are inspired by what they've created. Others have invested millions just to own one of their paintings.
While I'm certainly inspired by their works of art, I'm most inspired by their story.
The art we see, tells a story of so much more... of lessons learned and a life lived.
Art certainly speaks.