Post-Impressionism

Post-Impressionism is a term used to group a number of mostly French art movements begun by artists close to the Impressionists.

Post-Impressionism can be taken as extending Impressionism itself, as its artists were similarly concerned with color; they turned as well to their immediate surroundings for subjects, and also painted with thick brushstrokes. Yet as these artists charged into the breach that Impressionism had opened up for them, they were in avant-garde revolution, feeling Impressionism lacked spiritual depth and and compositional structure. 

Paul Signac's portrait of art critic Félix Fénéon, who did much to promote Neo-Impressionism.

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In short, they wanted more, but they didn't know how to go about getting it.

As a result, trends developed in several directions, distorting expressions, exploding color, underscoring geometric form, and the art world has been arguing about what the term "Post-Impressionism" means ever since.

In 1910 a British art critic, Roger Fry, was busy in London organizing an exhibition of French artists.  For lack of a better name, he called them "Post-Impressionists", intentionally vague and non-committal, simply placing them chronologically after the Impressionists. A later art historian in the 1940s and 50s, John Rewald, refined the definition further to limit it to French artists whose work derived from Impressionism, and it is this meaning that has more a less held.


Post-Impressionism: Neo-Impressionism or Pointillism

This trend, led by lights like French artist Georges Seurat, was the Post-Impressionist movement most directly developing out of Impressionism itself.  To learn more, click here.


Post-Impressionism: Les Nabis

Under the direction of Paul Gauguin, Paul Sérusier painted "The Talisman" (left) during a walk in a little wood in Pont-Aven.  This work caused the group of young artists to call themselves Les Nabis, and to found an avant-garde movement.  More here.


Post-Impressionism:  Synthetism

Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin were close to the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, but didn't want to reduce painting to a scientific system of optical laws.  Details here.


Post-Impressionism:  Symbolism

More than an art movement, Symbolism was a broad worldwide trend in revolt against Realism and Impressionism.  Hearkening to the past, idealistic, these artists sought to create a sacred art.  Click here to learn more.


Post-Impressionism:  Fauvism

In the late 1800s a number of young artists met in the studio of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris.  Outraging critics and the public, led by Henri Matisse and André Derain, they took color to where it had never gone before.  More here.


Post-Impressionism:  Expressionism

Essentially Germanic and led by artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Expressionism developed out of the two movements of Symbolism and Fauvism.  Mystical, violent, it too sought to refute Impressionism and Realism.  Details here.

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