Post-impressionism began in approximately 1885 and ended in 1905.

The post-impressionist movement stemmed directly from Impressionism, but it rejected many of the ideals of its predecessor.

Also, unlike Impressionism, Post-impressionism was not a unified movement. Instead of working in a close-knit group, the post-impressionist artists worked separately and developed their own individual styles.

The History of Post-Impressionism

The term post-impressionism was first used by English art critic Roger Fry when he described the work of artists who attempted to extend the visual language seen in impressionist paintings.

The post-impressionist painters abandoned the impressionist ideals of light and colour. Instead they more thoroughly explored the role of colour, form, and solidity in painting.

Noteworthy Impressionist Painters

The most important post-impressionist painters included Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Henri Rousseau, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

All of these painters were French, with the exception of van Gogh, who was Dutch.

Cezanne spent most of his career painting in isolation at Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Like the Impressionists, Cezanne made no attempt to tell stories with his paintings. Instead he focused on form and mass, often distorting the proportions of his subject matters. Cezanne’s use of distortion was a big influence on the Cubist movement.

Gauguin spent much of his time living in Tahiti, where he was searching for purity and simplicity in life. While abroad, he developed a decorative painting style, emphasising colour, patterns, shapes, and lines.

Unlike Cezanne and the Impressionists, Gauguin’s paintings contained emotional messages. In most of his paintings, he explored the question of human existence.

Van Gogh expressed his inner feelings through his art. He painted with pure colour (sometimes right out of the tube) and used quick, strong brushstrokes. Van Gogh became famous for the passionate intensity of his paintings.

Rousseau was famous for his paintings of mysterious dreamlike scenes. His work is thought to have influenced the surrealist movement in the 1920’s.

Toulouse-Lautrec spent his life painting scenes from the night spots, cafes, and music halls in Bohemian Paris. He is well-known for his pictures of famous actresses, dancers, singers, and other kinds of performers.

Seurat created a unique painting style called pointillism, or divisionism. Instead of making broad brushstrokes, Seurat would apply tiny dots of colour. The colour of each dot differed. From far away, the colours looked like they blended into each other.

Seurat’s style completely contrasted with the natural and direct style of impressionism. His work appeared stiff, his figures immovable. Pointillism eventually evolved into neo-impressionism, which rivalled the post-impressionism movement.

Although short-lived, post-impressionism inspired many art movements that followed, such as neo-impressionism, cubism, and fauvism.

Other Art Movements

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