Explain the effects of the Industrial Revolution on society as a whole. How did artists respond to these changes?
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Artists, like everyone else, began to implement technologies that were previously non-existent. After the Industrial Revolution, pigments and their colors could be synthesized making them cheaper to acquire and more consistent in quality than colors made from mineral or plant based pigments.
With the Industrial Revolution came a revolution in ideas, as well. Some artists sought contradictions to the values adopted during the Victorian Age such as temperance, structure, discipline, and the ideals of the Enlightenment. Turning to Romanticism, paintings expressed emotion as in such works as those of Delacroix, and the highly imaginative and subjective approach that the early Impressionists of France such as Monet, Renoir, and Pissaro took toward their subject matter such as how the light strikes certain objects. With Impressionism, there is also a dreamlike quality. Finally, the Post-Impressionists sought to capture what they saw at a given moment. Artists such as Van Gogh used stronger, bolder brush strokes with much color as they painted chairs, lonely people, etc. Or they drew posters with impromptu presentations of what they saw at a given moment, such as Toulouse Lautrec.
The Industrial Revolution changed the way everything was produced. Products went from being made by hand to being put out on an assembly line. The mass production of products was not limited to razor blades and shoes. Art became cheaper when it was mass produced as well. Artists could make a piece and have it duplicated thousands of times and sold for cheap. This also made the artist's work more prevalent.
The Industrial Revolution is obviously studied for a reason, and it is definitely an incredibly important event in world history. You might like to consider the work of British artists such as Turner, whose paintings reflected the rise of the rail road and of steam technology as a whole. In particular if you google "Steamer in a Snowstorm" you will be able to see how the Industrial Revolution impacted art as artists sought to reflect the drastic changes that were occurring around them.
In the United States, the Industrial Revolution set into motion a chain of cause and effect that would eventually culminate in no less than the American Civil War. Industry was more attractive to northern states than to southern ones; rockier soil made farming more difficult North than South, and as more and more factories were up and running in the late 1700's and 1800's, increasing numbers of northerners abandoned their farms to work for cash in these new business ventures. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, ironically a product of the Industrial Revolution, actually gave the slavery system new life in the South, however, as the typical plantation owner could now extract far more cotton from each slave he owned. The rich got richers in the Southern states with the cotton gin, and slavery, a system that might have been on its last legs renewed itself with vigor. Artists in Europe and the United States responded to these rapidly changing conditions in a number of ways. American painters who came to be known as the Hudson River School, often painted landscapes that depicted nature in quiet harmony with industrial subjects such as mills, trains, factories, etc. In Europe, Claude Monet, who often favored landscapes and other romantic subjects, began painting railroad stations and trains.
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