IMPRESSIONISMS ROUTES

The project "Impressionisms Routes" in Europe aims at creating and fostering, within the continent, a link between the sites that have inspired the European impressionist and plein air painters from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century, the places where they lived, the places where they established artists’ colonies and the towns which today display their works inside their museums or their cultural venues. This collection of sites makes up a true "open-air museum" of the depicted landscapes, and enables the direct connection of the visitors with the Impressionist movement.

 

Impressionism marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, just as in the scientific, political and economic spheres during this period, because art reflects the numerous changes of the societies. This artistic movement did not touch only the painters, but also the intelligentsia of the time: musicians, writers, journalists, scientists…

 

Impressionism was born in France where it saw its main evolutions, but it is in Europe where it developed most strongly in spite of the then difficult political context, as is shown in the book published under the aegis of Eau et Lumière in September 2016: "Impressionisms Routes - Les Routes des Impressionnismes en Europe". All the artists took part to the major movement of ideas that crossed the continent after 1848 questionning political borders, intellectual data and the established powers. The cultural stake of the "Impressionisms Routes" project is to convey also these multiple aspects of impressionism.

The many meetings between these artists at workshops, stays or exhibitions or provoked by the collectors and art dealers eased the spread of the new techniques created from the beginning of the 20th century by the English painters Turner and Constable. These had modified the pictorial style before the emergence of trends breaking with officiel art among the Italian Macchiaioli or in the Barbizon School… Impressionism reflects a fervent affection for light, for water in its various forms, for daily life… It conveys a joy of living enhanced by its perfect harmony with nature, and is at the origin of pictorial revolutions that happened later…

 

At a time when Europe has expanded its boundaries and when a quest for its core identity is needed more than ever, impressionism also constitutes a major component of the Europeans’ collective memory: scenes of everyday life as well as numerous meeting places that still exist, social practices like days in the countryside ("parties de campagne") by the water, the "guinguettes", the bathings or the water sports…

Impressionists have also widely supported innovative evolutions of the world in which they lived, glorifying the new industrial knowledges, the railway stations, the bridges, the large Haussmann-style avenues in Paris or the work of the most humbles…

 

 

"Impressionisms Routes" intends to highlight these symbolic and fruitful meetings between art and industry, which constitute another important side of the European collective memory.

Impressionists have succeeded in conveying the European common values, both in their attitude and in their works: the spirit of freedom, justice, tolerance, solidarity… The claimed independence in which they always worked, outside religious, political or academical constraints, has opened new artistic horizons to them, widely echoed and developed by the next generations.

The partnership established by the Eau et Lumière association with euroArt, grouping of 55 artists’ colonies from 16 European countries, as well as the network structure settled by "Impressionisms Routes" aim at promoting in the best possible way the European heritage built over decades in order to use it for the training of young people, for a "smart and responsible" tourism and for every kind of meeting that may deepen and magnify the European idea…

Lastly, "Impressionisms Routes" wants to make people aware of the current presence of a unifying European past whose prestigious renown has, for a long time, crossed the borders of the continent.

CULTURAL ROUTES OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

Launched by the Council of Europe in 1987, the European Cultural Routes demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different European countries contributes to a shared heritage. The Routes are the local networks implementing the Council of Europe’s core values: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity and identity, exchanges and mutual enrichment across boundaries and centuries. They act as channels for the intercultural dialogue and promote a better knowledge and understanding of European history.

 

At the beginning of 2016, we counted 33 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: the first ones, labelled in 1987, are the routes of Santiago de Compostela; the last ones, labelled in 2015, are called: "Sur les traces de Robert Louis Stevenson" ("In the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson") (culture-routes.net website)


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