The Founding Fathers of Modern Art in Europe Taught Us How to Paint and So Much More

Offending the Bourgeoisie

With regards to the idea of breaking barriers and allowing people from all walks of life to understand and appreciate art, there is no one who excelled in challenging the status quo as much as Gustave Courbet. His masterpiece called the Burial at OrnanĀ“s influenced generations of artists who came after him.

Courbet’s Burial at Ornan’s is not only an example of how great artists could capture beauty and preserve it on canvas, it was also a great example of how modern art could provide a realistic depiction of the scene witnessed in daily life. Before Courbet displayed his masterwork artists were conformed to an ideal way of painting. Artists followed certain rules and one of them was the need to use pictorial prototypes and other forms of conventions.

Restricting the Creative Mind

Courbet did not only challenge the status quo with regards to their stubborn refusal to experiment with a different style, he also provoked the aristocrats and the powerful members of society when he painted his masterpiece in a large canvas. Consider the impact when he displayed his painting that was twenty-one feet long and eleven feet high. One could just imagine how it mesmerized the people of France during that time period. More importantly, Courbet challenged the unspoken rules with regards to painting something of that magnitude. Before that day paintings made on a twenty-foot canvas was reserved for royalty and nobility.

Appreciating the Sacrifices Made

The subject of the painting as well as the purpose of the painting must be justified by the one who commissioned it. This particular social norm was easy to enforce because poor people could not afford to commission an artist and pay for the expenses required to complete such a magnificent work of art. Thus, one could see why Courbet is considered as one of the founding fathers of modern art. Courbet paved the way for others and he opened the door that leads to a million possibilities. Consider the impact of the painting when Courbet chose as his subject ordinary men and women from an unknown little village. He was a hero in the sense that he made significant sacrifices in order to see change in the world of high art.

A Successful Revolutionary

Modern art is mostly associated with famous paintings and artists who created stunningly beautiful artworks such as Cezanne’s The Bather and his Still Life with Apples. Gauguin’s The Moon and the Earth takes the breath away. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers reminds art enthusiasts of the vivid colors of spring. These masterpieces elevated the modern art form and inspires future artists and made them believe that there is a way to improve their craft and bring it to a higher level.

It is good to acknowledge the contributions of these masters but special mention must be given to Courbet. He did not only teach artists how to paint; he taught them how to challenge the limitations set before them.