Post-Impressionism – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Theory Glossary

What is Post-Impressionism?

Post-Impressionism is an art movement that emerged in the late 19th century as a response to Impressionism. It is characterized by a focus on the artist’s emotional and psychological response to the subject matter, rather than just capturing the visual impression.

Post-Impressionist artists sought to express their individuality and subjective experience through their work, often using bold colors, expressive brushstrokes, and unconventional compositions.

Characteristics of Post-Impressionism

One of the key characteristics of Post-Impressionism is the use of vivid colors and exaggerated forms to convey emotion and meaning. Artists often used color symbolism to evoke certain moods or ideas in their paintings.

Post-Impressionist artists also experimented with new techniques and styles, such as pointillism, where small dots of color are applied to the canvas to create a sense of movement and light.

Another characteristic of Post-Impressionism is the rejection of naturalistic representation in favor of a more abstract or symbolic approach to art. Artists were more concerned with capturing the essence of their subject rather than its physical appearance.

Key Artists of Post-Impressionism

Some of the most prominent Post-Impressionist artists include Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, and Paul Gauguin. Each of these artists had a unique style and approach to their work, but they all shared a common interest in exploring the emotional and psychological aspects of art.

Vincent van Gogh is perhaps the most well-known Post-Impressionist artist, famous for his bold use of color and expressive brushwork. His paintings often depict scenes from nature or everyday life, infused with a sense of emotion and energy.

Paul Cézanne is known for his innovative approach to composition and form, breaking down objects into their basic geometric shapes and exploring the relationship between light and color.

Georges Seurat is best known for his development of pointillism, a technique that uses small dots of color to create a sense of movement and light in his paintings.

Paul Gauguin is known for his use of bold colors and exotic subject matter, often drawing inspiration from his travels to Tahiti and other exotic locations.

Influence of Post-Impressionism

Post-Impressionism had a significant impact on the development of modern art, influencing movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism. The emphasis on individual expression and subjective experience in Post-Impressionist art paved the way for artists to explore new ways of representing the world around them.

The use of bold colors and expressive brushwork in Post-Impressionist paintings also had a lasting impact on the development of abstract art, as artists began to experiment with non-representational forms and compositions.

Criticisms of Post-Impressionism

Despite its influence and significance in the art world, Post-Impressionism was not without its critics. Some art critics and viewers found the bold colors and exaggerated forms of Post-Impressionist art to be too jarring or unconventional, preferring the more traditional and realistic style of earlier art movements.

Others criticized Post-Impressionism for its rejection of naturalistic representation, arguing that the abstract and symbolic approach to art was too removed from reality to be meaningful or relatable.

Legacy of Post-Impressionism

The legacy of Post-Impressionism can be seen in the work of countless artists across the globe who continue to explore the emotional and psychological aspects of art. The movement’s emphasis on individual expression and subjective experience has had a lasting impact on the development of modern art, inspiring artists to push the boundaries of traditional artistic conventions and explore new ways of representing the world around them.

In conclusion, Post-Impressionism remains a significant and influential art movement that continues to inspire artists and art lovers alike with its bold colors, expressive brushwork, and innovative approaches to composition and form.