Post-Impressionism was a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905, from the last Impressionist exhibition to the birth of Fauvism.
Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction against Impressionists' concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Its broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolic content means Post-Impressionism encompasses Les Nabis, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven School, as well as Synthetism, along with some later Impressionists' work. The movements principal artists were Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat.
The Elements of Post-Impressionism Art.
Breaking away from the naturalism of Impressionism and focusing their art upon the subjective vision of the artists, rather than following the traditional role of the art as a window onto the world, artists of the Post-Impressionism movement focused on the emotional, structural, symbolic, and spiritual elements that they felt was lacking from Impressionism. The ‘depiction of the passing moment’ of impressionism paintings, such as the painting series of Claude Monet, for the emerging new authors, created the paintings that lacked structure. Attempting to attack this issue, the Post-Impressionism art movement seems to be divided into two major streams of thought.
Similarly to the previous division of the Neo-Classical and Romantic art, the division of Post-Impressionism movement also existed onto a more structural, formal, nearly scientific design style of artist Georges Seurat with his dot theory, later known as pointillism and Paul Cézanne, who concentrated his practice on the research of the color planes, while on the other, the art of French painter Gauguin, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec emphasized the expression of emotions and sensations through light and color. Out of these two trends of Post-Impressionism art, emerged the extremes of the individual styles of the 20th-century art, ranging from Cubism to Surrealism.
The Different Approaches, Concepts, and Styles
The earliest indication of the new trend that broke with Impressionism was the painting style of Georges Seurat. He developed a style of painting known as Pointillism, which refers to the use of a point or dot as the basis for the construction of a painting. His method of painting, scientifically thought after, following a rigorous pattern design and employing even one of the oldest compositional tools, the golden section, kept the bright and unmixed color scheme of the Impressionism paintings and open-air themes but added a design based on geometrical shapes. The perfectly balanced compositions of Seurat’s paintings differ immensely from the vibrant and screaming paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Attempting to express the deepest emotions, and the expressions of his tormented soul, van Gogh’s paintings relied upon the saturated colors and broad brushstrokes to evoke the inner turmoil of the artist. Both van Gogh and Paul Gauguin rejected the ‘ abominable error of naturalism’ in favor of a more personal, spiritual expression.
“ I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” - Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh and Gauguin shared an interest in symbolic content and produced images that were subtracted from their natural appearances, where the artist’s feelings about the subject matter, and his views on the aesthetic consideration of color, line, and form, were the most crucial elements for the creation of their paintings. Van Gogh was also influenced by a variety of sources, and his love of the stylized representations of Japanese woodblock prints was also evident in the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose unique depictions of the Parisian nightlife resulted in paintings and lithographs that were built with the strong outlines and flat planes of color of the Japanese woodblocks.