"Posing with Posies"
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Edouard Vuillard’s “Posing with Posies.” Vuillard was a member of Les Nabis, a group of Parisian artists in the 19th century. Each of the member’s styles were unique but influential in impressionistic art. Courtesy photo

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The Town of Monument’s recent celebration of its 140th birthday made me curious about art trends during the late 1800s.

Several forms emerged during that era that stood the test of time. Realism artists concentrated on observable, contemporary reality. Impressionists,such as Monet and Renoir created images with visible, sketchy strokes. Art Nouveau enthusiasts sought to raise the level of crafts like furniture, textiles, glasswork and jewelry to that of “fine art.”

However, several lesser-known styles had their debut and impact in the 19th century. Welcome Les Nabis, a group of five young Parisian artists who played a large part in the transition from impressionism and academic art to abstract art and other early movements of modernism. Their group was a semi-secret society that lasted only 12 years.

During the last decade of the 19th century, progressive artists in Germany and Austria found themselves at odds with the official artists’ organizations. They seceded from the traditional groups, appropriately gaining the moniker, “Secession.” The most important Secession groups were in Munich, Vienna and Berlin.

Lasting just six years, the seven-member Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought to recapture the sincerity and simplicity of late medieval and early Renaissance art. They believed they could reform society through their art. The style was very meticulous and focused on the Bible and everyday life.

While some of these art movements were short-lived, they all shared grass-roots formation: small groups coming together to pursue a passion. In many ways, our local artists carry on that tradition 140 years later.

Jennifer Cunningham is the owner of Gallery 132 in Downtown Monument. Gallery 132 won Gold in The Gazette’s 2018 Best of the Springs Best New Store. Contact her with questions at jennifer@gallery132.com.

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