The Boating Party

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Cassatt The Boating Party 1893-1894
In the 1890s Japanese art flowed into Paris. Exhibits displayed the block uses of color and the simplicity of designs, a nice breath of uncomplicated air from the impressionists shows. Cassatt enjoyed these exhibitions and took these techniques to her own art. This piece is a transition from her other more impressionistic pieces with fluid brush strokes, such as Tea painted earlier in 1880.
Cassatt, Tea, 1880 
At the point in her career when she would have painted Tea, she was studying next to Degas and took to more formal situations with woman with scenes such as this, outdoors with children, while women are getting ready (fully clothed and out of the bathtub, unlike Monsieur Degas). The lines on the walls in Tea are less stressed and the color palette is clearly lighter compared to The Boating Party, where Cassatt goes as far as to almost create a shade of black, secretly forbidden by the impressionists.

After The Boating Party, Cassatt furthered her exploration of Japanese art and produced pieces such as Under the Horse Chestnut in 1898. The transformation of these three paintings show her progression in her career away from classic Impressionism. In Under the Horse Chestnut the block color look and light color palete is displayed. There is no depth, just strong, bland colors and lines that force you to focus on the shapes of the characters. Her clothing and her arms are done beautifully and her study of women with Degas shows through those aspects as she removes the shadows and colors, and the baby's body is also beautifully done with this new style as well.

Cassatt, Under the Horse Chestnut, 1898
I chose to focus on the middle transition piece because it shows her master of both Impressionist art and the beginnings of her Japanese influence. Her water is still smooth, but the man's coat and the boat begin to show the blocks of color, and the darkness of the man surprised many because, as I said before, black was never the choice color of impressionist painters, and this was a risky move and told viewers that Cassatt was in the process of going in a different direction.

The new direction took Cassatt on world adventures and finally to Egypt in 1910. There she saw true historical art and had an "art crisis," where she had a freak out about creating new art when the old art she was seeing near the pyramids and other artifacts. This forced her to question her art, and she remained in her "art crisis" but kept painting until 1914 when she went blind and had to put up her paint brushes.

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