Light and the Spiritual: From Luminism to Impressionism


Luninism was eventually replaced by impressionism and ultimately by abstract expressionism in Europe and America. However, the change came much later in the United States than in Europe.

This impressionistic painting helps explain why. In impressionism the physical objects are replaced by light. The artist paints the light, not the object. In this painting, however, the intense light bouncing off of the trunk of the largest tree bears witness to the existence of an object behind the light.

Both artists and the public found it difficult to give up the objectivity of luminism.

George Inness, Sunset in the Woods, 1891, Corcoran Gallery of Art