This article is dedicated to art and travel enthusiasts. Through artworks of legendary artists - Van Gogh, Munch, Hopper, Monet and Friedrich - go on an adventure along new trails that will make you discover or rediscover high places of Art History.
Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise, 1872. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris.
Did you know that Normandy and Impressionism are inextricably linked?
Sea breezes and changing weather make this region an Eldorado for any painter in search of more or less intense light variations. The founding artwork of the Impressionist movement (Impression, Sunrise,1872) is a view of Le Havre, the Norman port city where Claude Monet spent a good part of his childhood. Since the region is close to Paris, it quickly became the playground of many artists. Whether they were local, such as Eugène Boudin (born in Honfleur) and Raoul Dufy (born in Le Havre), or whether they lived in the four corners of France, such as Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir or Frédéric Bazille, many renowned artists enjoyed the play of light and natural spaces of the Normandy coast. Honfleur, Etretat, Rouen, Giverny are all emblematic symbols of art history.
Claude Monet, The Cliff of Etretat, Sunrise, 1883. Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art.
If there were to be only one representative of impressionism in Normandy, it would undoubtedly be Claude Monet. He started his career in Le Havre and then in Rouen and spent the end of his life in the Normandy countryside of Giverny. If you are an admirer of the Waterlily Man, then it's in the region of cider and camembert that you should go. Follow the guide!
3 must-see places to discover Claude Monet's Normandy:
Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, Sunlight, 1894. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Edward Hopper, Second Story Sunlight, 1960. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
If there is one painter who symbolizes the American Way of Life, it's Edward Hopper. Through an anthology of melancholic and solitary artworks depicting a deep and silent America, he has made his place in the pantheon of legendary artists. His artistic production can be divided into two distinct universes: one representing city life and urban landscapes, often nocturnal, having as subjects the typical American diners, bars, offices and gas stations (Nighthawks, Gas, New York Office, Conference at Night, Chop Suey...). The other universe depicts a more rural, wild and natural America, which he often captured in the Cape Cod region, where he owned a second home in which he came to take refuge every summer.
Edward Hopper, Summer Evening, 1947. Private collection (lucky one!).
Unless you can go back in time, it will be difficult to immerse yourself in the urban climate of the 1940s in the United States. Fortunately, if the urban landscapes evolve rapidly, the bucolic panoramas of Cape Cod, as for them, remain globally the same. So, for a complete immersion in Hopper's work, here are our tips:
Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington.
3 must-see places to discover Hopper's melancholic America:
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942. Art Institute of Chicago.
Edward Hopper, House by the Railroad, 1925. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Although he had a notable influence in landscape painting, Caspar David Friedrich is certainly the most underrated artist in this ranking.
Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818. Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany.
You may be familiar with his most famous artwork: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (see illustration). Caspar David Friedrich's landscapes, showing people from the back, contemplating a nature as poetic as indomitable, made him famous all over Europe. His universe, on the border between reality and fantasy, has had many repercussions in our modern society, notably by influencing the world of comic books and video games.
Caspar David Friedrich, Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, 1818. Kunst Museum Winterthur, Switzerland.
Head of the German Romanticism inspired by Goethe's philosophy, his wild landscapes transpire of passionate and introspective emotions. The best thing about mountain and seascape paintings is that they change so little over time. This allows a perfect immersion for those who would like to travel in the footsteps of the artist: the chalk cliffs of the island of Rügen are the same as they were two centuries ago, and the mountain ranges of Central Europe have also not moved an inch.
3 essential places to discover the romantic Germany of Caspar David Friedrich:
Caspar David Friedrich, The Sea of Ice, 1924. Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany.
Caspar David Friedrich, The Watzmann, 1824-1825. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Everyone knows the famous Scream of Munch. However, this isn't the only famous artwork by the Norwegian expressionist painter, as there are no less than 6,000 pieces signed by his hand, not to mention thousands of pages of sketches and preparatory work for his paintings, drawings and watercolors.
Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893. Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.
Through symbolic and delicate artworks, the artist expresses his emotion, alternating between candid joy and tragic melancholy. The landscapes, although simplistic, have a predominant place in his compositions. One can also recognize the originality of the panoramas and weather phenomena typically Nordic. Since it was executed in the land of the Northern Lights and volcanic eruptions, we can better understand the orange and liquefied sky that we discover in the iconic Scream.
Edvard Munch, Two Human Beings (The Lonely Ones), 1905. Private collection.
Whether you're in love with Edvard Munch's style, or you want to visit Norway with a different perspective, we bring you the best places to feel and experience Norwegian expressionism.
Edvard Munch, Melancholy, 1894-1896, Kunstmuseum Bergen, Norway.
3 must-see places to discover Edvard Munch's bucolic Norway:
Edvard Munch's House and Studio in Åsgårdstrand.
Edvard Munch, The Dance of Life, 1899-1900. Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.
Vincent Van Gogh, Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun, 1889. Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Although he spent little time in the South of France, this was the artist's most prolific period, producing just over 300 artworks in approximately 15 months. Far from being a simple convalescent stopover, this trip was a real revelation for Van Gogh.
Vincent Van Gogh, The Siesta (after Millet), 1890. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
No sooner had he set down his suitcases and easel than he fell directly in love with the provençal climate. As a great collector, he was fascinated by the luminosity of Japanese engravings, a sensation he found again in the sunny floral landscapes of the south of France. Fields of lavender, cherry trees in bloom, olive trees everywhere...
Vincent was sure: he was in the right place - "The country (of Provence) seems to me as beautiful as Japan for the limpidity of the atmosphere and the effects of cheerful color." (correspondence with his brother Theo Van Gogh).
Vincent Van Gogh, Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing, 1888. Kröller-Müller-Museum (Netherlands).
It was in Provence that Vincent Van Gogh realized some of his most famous masterpieces: The Starry Night(s), The Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night, The Night Café, Van Gogh's room in Arles, the various portraits of the Roulin family or even The Siesta and The First Steps (after Millet). For an artistic stroll under the southern sun, follow the guide:
2 must-see places to discover Van Gogh's idyllic Provence:
On the left, Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888, Musée d'Orsay). On the right, the Rhone quay in Arles.
Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
So, when are we leaving?