One and Three Chairs vs. Vetheuil in the Fog

Oneand Three Chairs vs. Vetheuil in the Fog

Nameof Institution

Oneand Three Chairs vs. Vetheuil in the Fog

Judgingby its rich history, art has over the decades gradually transformedinto various forms, each passing through a unique artistic period.These periods, commonly referred to as art movements, arecharacterized by detailed changes in how people at the time perceivedart. Changes in social, religious, philosophical as well as politicalbackgrounds during the various movements played a major role indetermining the artistic ideologies applied at the time. Two of themost vibrant art movements were the conceptualism and impressionismperiods, with each having played a major role in the development ofart over the generations.

Asdetailed by Gunderson, impressionism and sensation go hand in hand(2009). Sensation, coupled with instinct, helps build impressionismas an art form. This explains why all renowned painters wereimpressionists in one way or the other. Impressionism is one of theearliest art movements since it began as early as 1871, running allthe way through the early 1990’s. It is in fact referred to as thevery first distinct modern painting movement. The period was allabout paving the way for great artistic minds to establish art as arecognizable and highly respected pillar of the society.Impressionistic artists such as Claude Monet, most of whom were basedin Paris, gained a lot of prominence during this period as peoplegradually grew to appreciate art even more. At the time, theseartists held various exhibitions within Europe showing off theirmeticulous works of art and educating people on their compositions.This ultimately gave birth to a whole new level of human perceptionin as far as art is concerned.

Impressionismwas a representational style of art. However, unlike most art forms,it did not always use realistic depictions in its images (Gunderson,2009). During that period of time, scientists had come to therealization that what the brain perceived did not necessarily matchwhat the eye could see. Impressionists therefore aimed at capturingoptical light effects to pass on messages demonstrating changes inatmospheric conditions such as weather changes on a mare piece ofcanvas. These artists used slight brushwork to bring out the best ofcolors. The goal here was to attain a pure sense of color in thepaintings. One such painting was the ‘Vetheuil in the Fog’, doneby Claude Monet in 1879. To date, this is considered to be thegreatest piece of work done during the impressionism movement.

  • What does the painting depict?

The‘Vetheuil in the Fog’ depicts an image of a small town known asVetheuil. At the center of the painting, one can clearly make out ahuge towering figure showing the church in Vetheuil. The view is asseen across the River Siene on a foggy evening. Claude Monet usedshades of blue or white paint as cover so as to bring out the aspectof fog. One very unique aspect of the painting is the reflection ofthe city and the church in the water landscape. It incorporates amore subtle, or rather albeit, kind of impression. The sentimentportrayed is peaceful and highly pleasant.

  • What medium was used?

Similarto most of Claude Monet’s paintings, the ‘Vetheuil in the Fog’used oil and canvas as its main mediums (Gunderson, 2009). In orderto bring out the unique sunlight fade and foggy background, Monetslightly but hurriedly passed thick short brush strokes over thecanvas as is common with impressionism paintings. The brush strokeswere predominant among impressionist artists as they opted to useopen compositions on their work so as to accurately bring out thevarious changes in light quality. Side by side color application wasalso used so as to avoid color mixing, hence a more vivid colorillustration.

  • Why did Monet paint it (factors)?

Priorto painting the ‘Vetheuil in the Fog’, Claude Monet had justmoved his family to Vetheuil hence giving him the ideal reason tocapture the town’s beauty. However, as an impressionist artist,Claude Monet was more concerned with bringing out the shifts in thenatural world. This can be seen in how he portrays the sun fadingaway and the heavy foggy presence in the background. In addition tothis, government-sanctioned salons as well as academic institutionsof art had shunned Claude Monet as well as other impressionismartists at the time. Therefore, just like most painters, Monet cameup with the painting as a means of capturing the momentary effect ofthe scene without incorporating the prime finish expected. Thishelped bring out the impression objects would instantly grant the eyeand establish Claude Monet as a self-reliant impressionism artist.

Conceptualism,on the other hand, came about much later. The art movement ideallystarted off during the early 1960’s but was one movement thatliterally broke all barriers set by former art movements. Factorsthat previously had to be considered in art such as marketability,aesthetics and skill are not acknowledged by conceptual artists.Conceptual art is basically one that wholly relies on ideas as theprimary source of artwork (Wood, 2002). According to greatconceptualism artists such as Joseph Kosuth, an idea in itself is aform of art. All that is required is some form of presentation toideally turn the idea into a physical state of art. This led toconceptual art broadening the forms that art is presented in.Conceptual artists exhibit their work in the form of ephemera,performances or even happenings. Basically, conceptual art marked thedeath of traditions as part of art. This art form literally knows noboundaries. One of the primary conceptualism pieces of art was onedone by Joseph Kosuth in 1965, known as ‘One and Three Chairs’.

  • What does the picture depict?

In‘One and Three Chairs’, Joseph Kosuth joins three images tocreate one large piece of art. He uses a chair, a picture of thechair and a cut-out from the dictionary showing the definition of theword “Chair’. The chair is neatly placed in the middle with thepicture of the chair hanged to the top left of the chair. Thedictionary cut-out is hanged to the top-right of the chair and isaligned directly opposite the picture of the chair. The sentimentportrayed is rather calm but one that vividly engages the mind.

  • What medium was used?

Conceptualart is all about incorporating a minimalistic kind of approach. The‘One and Three Chairs’ piece is only a picture. No canvas orpaint was used in its creation. Joseph Kosuth enlarged the dictionarycut-out, took another picture of the chair, enlarged it, arranged thethree and took a wholesome picture incorporating all three.

  • Why did Joseph Kosuth create the piece of art (Factors)?

Theend-game in this piece of art is to incorporate the question “whatmakes a chair?”, as is the emblem of any conceptual art. As perKosuth, the audience is to be engaged so as to choose whether thephotograph, the idea of a chair or the physical chair itselfconstitutes what is popularly referred to as the “chair”. Inaddition to this, technology was steadily growing in popularity hencethe extensive use of cameras. This explains why most conceptualartists at the time opted to use cameras, including Joseph Kosuth. Atthe same time, free-minded artists alike had started questioning theset-boundaries surrounding art. Renowned artists such as MarcelDuchamp had already created ready-mades as pieces of art as a meansof expressing what their idea of art was (Wood, 2002). Joseph Kosuth,in the spirit of expressing his ideas on the same, used the ‘Oneand Three Chairs’ to contribute further in the huge debate andultimately make a lasting contribution to conceptual art.

Inconclusion, the two pieces of art represent two of the most activeart movements ever experienced. The Impressionism art movement wasone characterized by a more articulate means of presenting art andbringing in the whole aspect of light sensitivity plus optical sensesinto art. Conceptualism as an art movement on the other hand was moreconcerned with questioning what art entails. Conceptual art was basedmore on the concept behind the piece of art rather than aspects suchas skill and aesthetic nature of the piece. This form of art had noboundaries art all. However, the two had one major similarity wherebyboth played a major role in further broadening art by rebellingagainst previous artistic norms. Impressionism art went against allboundaries set by conventional art forms while conceptual art wentall possible art boundaries as of then.


Wood,P., (2002). ConceptualArt: Movements in Modern Art.London: Tate Publishing.

Gunderson,J., (2009). Impressionism:Movements in Art.Minnesota: The Creative Company.


Figure1.1: One and Three Chairs

Figure2.1: Vetheuil in the Fog