Answer to Question 1.
Monet’s Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (In Sun) (1894), Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1881-82), and Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (c. 1884-86) are representative of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in several ways. Each painting provides a glimpse of contemporary life as well as the world that was changing in the late nineteenth century. Monet’s Rouen Cathedral portrays the ever-changing light and atmospheric conditions of the city, whereas Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère represents the bustling nightlife of Paris. Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is a commentary on leisure time and the bourgeois lifestyle in Paris.
Each painting also reflects the style and characteristics of Impressionism or Post-Impressionism. Monet’s use of quick brushstrokes and thick layers of paint to capture the fleeting effects of sunlight is a hallmark of Impressionism. Manet’s flattened space and direct gaze of the barmaid also reflects the Impressionist emphasis on everyday life. Seurat’s use of pointillism, or small dots of color, to create the illusion of light and atmosphere, reflects the Post-Impressionist emphasis on formal structure and color theory.
Every painting displays tension between its two-dimensionalness and the illusions of three dimensions created by artists. Monet’s Rouen Cathedral creates the illusion of depth through the use of atmospheric perspective and the placement of the cathedral in the background. Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère uses mirrors to create a sense of depth in the space, while also highlighting the flatness of the overall composition. Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte creates the illusion of depth through the use of pointillism and color theory, but also emphasizes the flatness of the figures and their surroundings.
Answer to question 2.
If I were to visit a modern museum, my first choice would be works by Jackson Pollock, especially those that are Abstract Expressionism. Pollock’s use of gesture and movement in his large-scale paintings is mesmerizing and captures the essence of emotion and energy. His work Autumn Rhythm, Number 30 (1950), with its drip-and-pour method, is a great example of both his style and his technique.
On the other hand, I would put Pop Art last on my list of “things to look for.” While Pop Art was a reaction to consumer culture and mass production, I find the images and subjects to be overused and overly familiar. One specific work that I would not be interested in seeing is Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962). While its repetition of the Campbell’s Soup can may have been groundbreaking in the 1960s, it now feels clichéd and lacks the emotional impact of other modern and contemporary art movements.