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DVD Review: The Impressionists with Tim Marlow – The Collection

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Those of us living in Western civilization are familiar with the names of the most prominent of the Impressionists. Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet – who among us can read those names without bringing to mind a mental image of their most well known works? With such widespread name recognition, it is altogether too possible to remain unaware of the controversial and revolutionary nature of the techniques, subject matter, and vision of these groundbreaking artists.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow – The Collection gathers together eight 24 minute episodes exploring the art and lives of eight contributors to the Impressionist movement. Some of those included in the collection did not self-identify as Impressionists; other may also be considered Early-Modernists. All the same, collectively these men became formative forces in the art world and have continued to effect artists to this day.

Hosted by Tim Marlow (always dapperly dressed) brief, yet comprehensive journeys are taken into the exterior and interior environs of Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Marlow often takes us on location for glimpses of the homes, studios, dance halls, and outdoor landscapes which informed the work of the artist. Devoting equal amounts of time to the social lives of the artists as to their work, Marlow explores the interplay between their relationships and pivotal life events and the subject matter and significance of their work. His uncensored and objective overviews take us through both happy scenes of family life, and into the world of mistresses, brothels, and Parisian nightclubs. Educators considering this collection for use with students should note that this exploration of the darker underbelly of the lives of these artists largely rules out this series for use outside of the upper grades.

Viewers are also taken to view the original pieces of art with Marlow as guide to the unique use of light, color, composition, and theme present. He admirably points out the evolution of each artists work, the influences their contemporaries had upon their techniques, and the artistic philosophy of each. Seamlessly woven together into a flowing narrative, Marlow maintains interest while speaking in easy to understand terms, making the work of the Impressionists accessible to all.

The all-regions disc is presented as eight separate chapters accessible through the main menu. Each must be selected individually to view, as there is no option to play the disc through in its entirety. Though no additional features are offered, at $29.99 the collection is affordably priced for the amount of content offered.

I find myself leaving the series with a much more complete understanding of the period in general, several artists I have been largely unfamiliar with, and a great deal more insight into the work of men whose art I have long admired.

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