The term “Post-Impressionism” was invented by Roger Fry as he prepared for an exhibition at Grafton Gallery in London in 1910. The show was called “Manet and the Post-Impressionists” (November 8, 1910-January 15, 1911), a canny marketing ploy to pair a brand name (Édouard Manet) with younger French artists whose work was not well known on the other side of the English Channel.
The exhibition included the painters Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, George Seurat, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Othon Friesz, plus the sculptor Aristide Maillol. Robert Rosenblum explained: “Post-Impressionists … felt the need to construct private pictorial worlds upon the foundations of Impressionism.”
Post-Impressionists pushed the ideas of the Impressionists into new directions. The word “Post-Impressionism” indicates their link to the original Impressionist ideas and their departure from those ideas — their modernist journey from the past into the future.
How Long Was Post-Impressionism a Movement?
Mid-1880s to early 1900s (including the Fauves as a Post-Impressionist Movement)
What Are the Key Characteristics of Post-Impressionism?
The Post-Impressionists were an eclectic bunch of individuals, so there were no broad, unifying characteristics. Each artist took an aspect of Impressionism and exaggerated it.
For example, Vincent van Gogh intensified Impressionism’s already vibrant colors and painted them thickly on the canvas (we call this impasto). Van Gogh’s energetic brushstrokes expressed emotional qualities. Therefore, we see him as an off-shoot of Impressionism and a proponent of Expressionism (art loaded with charged emotional content).
In other examples, Georges Seurat took the rapid, “broken” brushwork of Impressionism and developed it into the millions of colored dots that create Pointillism, while Paul Cézanne elevated Impressionism’s separation of colors into separations of whole planes of color.
The list below pairs the leading artists with their respective Post-Impressionist Movements.
Vincent van Gogh – Expressionism
Paul Cézanne – Constructive Pictorialism
Paul Gauguin – Symbolist, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven
Georges Seurat – Pointillism (a.k.a. Divisionism or Neoimpressionism)
Aristide Maillol – The Nabis
Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard – Intimist
André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Othon Friesz – Fauvism
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