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Impressionism and the Modern Landscape

Productivity, Technology, and Urbanization from Manet to Van Gogh

James H. Rubin (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN: 9780520248014
April 2008
$63.00, £49.00
This book offers a major reevaluation of one of art history's most popular and important art movements. In Impressionism and the Modern Landscape, James Rubin shifts the focus from familiar scenes of pleasure—the beautiful countryside, people at leisure—to a landscape changing as the result of productivity, technology, and urbanization. He demonstrates not only that the industrial and demographic revolutions of the nineteenth century had a profound impact on art, but also that impressionism was the first art historical movement to embrace such changes. Looking principally at Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Armand Guillaumin, and Gustave Caillebotte, Rubin has selected works in four categories: industrial waterways, trains, factories, and photographic viewpoints in the modern city. The examples convey not only these major themes but also the painters' belief in the progress of civilization through science and industry. The book thus expands the scope of impressionist celebrations of modernity to include "impressionism's other landscape."

1. Renovation and Modern Viewpoints: Roads, Bridges, and City Spaces
2. Art and Technology: Impressionism and Photography
3. Industrial Waterways: Ports, Rivers, and Canals
4. Railways and Stations: Trains and Tracks
5. Factories and Work Sites: City and Country
6. Revival and Renewal in the Next Generation
7. Political Frames and Aspirations: Realism to Utopia
8. Performing Representation: Modernism and Modernity

James Rubin is Professor of Art History at Stony Brook, the State University of New York, and Adjunct Professor of Art History at the Cooper Union. He is the author of eight books, including Courbet, Impressionism, and Impressionist Cats and Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life.
“A fresh perspective into a little-noticed aspect of the impressionist movement. . . . Refreshingly insightful.”—Art Times / Css Publications
“A well researched and carefully considered book, but in reaching for grand conclusions it is a pity that the important points being made become all too easily mired in academic sophistry.”—Art Newspaper
“Rubin’s prodigious research and deep knowledge make this book a valuable resource for art historians and Impressionism aficionados.”—Stephen May Artnews
"With a wealth of fresh ideas and new interpretive perspectives on familiar pictorial examples, James Rubin provides a lucid, comprehensive account of the cultural significance of impressionist painting. He stresses the artists' interest in modern industry, technology, and productivity—a welcome corrective to our tendency to view this art almost exclusively as commentary on forms of bourgeois leisure. This is the type of book that will serve you well if it is the only one you read on impressionism, but also the one to read if you have already read all the others."—Richard Shiff, The University of Texas at Austin

“James Rubin contends, contrary to the arguments of leading theorists of impressionist painting, that the painters' scenes of leisure and productivity should be read in tandem, for together they signify the impressionists' commitment to progressive modernism.” —Dianne Sachko Macleod, author of Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity

“Although a wealth of new writing on impressionism continues to appear, images of modern industry, technology, and commerce in the contemporary urban and rural landscape—a large body of evocative and often exquisite impressionist paintings—have received little sustained attention. Rubin's Impressionism and the Modern Landscape successfully fills this gap, approaching the new industrial landscape as an image of modern productivity essential for the pursuit of bourgeois leisure. Rubin argues persuasively for the industrial landscapes as a cohesive and revealing body of work, presenting an especially impressive analysis of canvases by Monet.”—Mary Tompkins Lewis, editor of Critical Readings in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

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