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Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Tonalism

Tonalism

Tonalism Collage

Started: 1870

Ended: 1915

"Paint should not be applied thick. It should be like a breath on the surface of a pane of glass."

James Whistler Signature

Synopsis

Working within a carefully chosen palette of closely related colors, the Tonalists aspired to emulate musicality and inspire contemplation. By arranging color and forms, they believed that landscapes could evoke emotion and suggest deep, cosmic harmonies. Their gentle color schemes and softly brushed contours quickly became popular, influencing musicians and poets. Unlike their contemporaries, such as the Luminists and the Impressionists, the Tonalists favored cool palettes and often chose nocturnal or modest scenes of contemplative quiet. The simplicity and attention to composition found in Tonalism contributed to the abstractions that would develop in 20th-century American modernism.

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