Monday, May 01, 2006

The Impressionists - a review

Overall, the new BBC series on the Impressionists made me change the time we ate dinner and kept our attention throughout! However, it's very much a drama based on facts as opposed to a dramatised documentary - with everything rather 'dramatic' (think TV mini-series!) and some very obvious statements and compression to enable scene setting.

The series uses an interview being given by Monet in his old age to a reporter as the vehicle around which to hang episodes in an important period of artistic development. Interestingly, the series focuses only on Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas and Bazille and latterly Cezanne. This is presumably in order to avoid overloading the storyline - but the writers have chosen to ignore other artists who were very much within Monet's circle such as Sisley.

It does give a good sense of the extent to which certain paintings, particularly those of Manet, were regarded as unfinished and/or very much breaking the 'rules' of art. I also enjoyed the attempts to demonstrate the context for the development of certain paintings. They showed the paintings concerned at the end of every mini-scene with perhaps the most famous being "La Grenouillere" (which means 'frog pond'!). I didn't know that Renoir had painted exactly the same scene as Monet's very famous painting of the bathers and the boats. This is Renoir's version. Overall, the most enjoyable aspect was the explanation of the importance of a painting within the context of the artist's life.

I'll be watching the next two episodes!

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1 comment:

  1. I shall be waiting impatiently til BBC Canada decides to show us this series.

    Til then, you'll have to fill me in on the 'not to miss' bits!


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