Claude Monet, Impression, Soleil Levant, 1872, Image source: Wikipedia
…so the other day I was standing on a hi-rise building (yes yes… 6 floors are quiet high in India) looking down at the world, enjoying god’s eye view of the surrounding etc… being short sighted and refusing to wear glasses (to avoid being “misunderstood” as a geek/freak) I borrowed my extremely short sighted friend’s glasses. While I was admiring the sharp, even if a bit zoomed-in, view of the Hussain Sagar Lake, my friend remarked – ye chashme ke bina accha dikhta hai (it looks good without the glasses). I asked why and he exclaimed, “I can’t make out the shape of things but the colors are so prominent and bright!”
As I was reading some hi-end poetry at that time, a sudden thought came to my mind. May be all impressionist painters were short sighted! Well that’s too much of a statement but how about Monet ? May be he and his radical friends (Renoir , Sisley , Bazille , etc) were trying to record the sensations they felt; looking at things - things that they could not clearly see. Maybe they saw this as a way of breaking away from the Salon approved material. May be one of them did a painting, trying for once, not to guess the shape of that distant tree and just paint what s/he saw with his/her weak vision. Maybe, when others saw this they adopted the style consciously probably by simulating short sightedness – you know the way we some times half close our eyes to blur out details while inspecting compositional integrity – and lo and behold Impressionism was born!I mean consider this, till mid 19th century approximately most French paintings (mostly historical subjects, religious themes, portraits etc) were done indoors – even landscapes! So may be short sightedness didn’t come into play much. But when these radicals ventured outdoors – en plein air – shot sightedness must have become an issue. Kya pata, ho sakta hai shyad… just a thought!
PS: By the way Bausch and Lomb guys were still struggling, around that time, in Armorika etc. God bless B&L. Amen.
PPS: This be just a fun thought nothing else. No disrespect to art or artists intended.