Post-impressionists

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Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte(1886)

The Post-impressionists were several artists of the late 19th century, who saw the work of the French Impressionist painters and were influenced by them. Their art styles grew out of the style called "Impressionism". The word "Post-" means "after", so "Post-impressionist" painting came after "Impressionist" painting.

The main Post-impressionist painters were Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat. The Post-impressionist painters lived in France and knew each other, but they did not work together as a group, in the way that some of the Impressionists did. They all painted in ways that were quite different to each other. The Post-impressionists led the way for other artists to experiment and develop all the different styles of "Modern Art" in the 20th century.

The term "Post-impressionists" was first used in 1910 by an English art critic, Roger Fry, who organized an exhibition in London called "Manet and the Post-impressionists". The exhibition had works by Edouard Manet, who, by that time, was a well-known Impressionist painter, as well as pictures by artists who were not well-known, Cezanne, Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Picasso and Braque are not now remembered as Post-impressionists; they are thought of as Cubists.[1]

Artists[change | edit source]

Paul Cezanne, The Bathers
Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Paul Cezanne was friendly with Claude Monet and the other Impressionist painters, and used to show his paintings in the Impressionist exhibitions. But after a time, his style became quite different to theirs. He began to paint the landscape in planes of colour. (A plane is a flat surface). His ideas about constructing things in pictures out of planes of colour influenced other artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque to paint pictures in a style called Cubism.
  • Paul Gauguin liked to paint in very bright colours and flat patterns. He often painted village people in their bright clothes. Vincent van Gogh met Gauguin and invited him to live with him so that they could share their ideas about paintings. But this did not work well, and van Gogh became very upset. Gauguin left France and went to live on the island of Tahiti, where he painted the people. His ideas about colour and pattern influenced other artists such as Henri Matisse to paint brightly-coloured pictures in a style called Fauvism.
  • Vincent van Gogh, like Gaugin, painted in bright colours. His style is very different to that of Gauguin, because he often put paint onto the canvas in short brushstrokes that make lots of wavy lines. His style is very different to any other artist's. Van Gogh suffered from mental illness most of his life, and never sold a painting. It is thought that the way that he painted was affected by his illness. Other artist were influenced by his work, because they felt that they could be free to "express their feelings" in their paintings, instead of trying to paint realistically. One group of painters who were influenced by van Gogh and Gauguin were the Expressionist painters.
  • Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a rich, but sickly and disabled man who lived in Paris and painted the people that he met at nightclubs, cafes and theatres. He was excellent at drawing, and most of his paintings are thinly painted so that they are really drawings in paint. Some of them are drawings in pastel. Toulouse-Lautrec made many portraits and scenes of the "night-life" of Paris. He also designed many posters to advertise the entertainments.
  • Georges Seurat, like Cezanne, was a friend of the Impressionists. Like them, he was interested in understanding the effects of light on colour. He studied light and experimented with painting pictures in hundreds of tiny dots of bright colour. Seurat's style of painting is called Pointillism.
  • Henri Rousseau was another artist who knew the Impressionists. He worked as a caretaker, and painted as a hobby. Although he sometimes painted portraits, most of his pictures are from his imagination and are like dreams. He never had any lessons, and his paintings have a rather child-like quality. Artists that paint like this are called Naive painters.

Influence[change | edit source]

The Post-Impressionist painters all experimented in different ways with the ideas of the Impressionists. Most of the important art movements (styles) of the twentieth century developed out of their work. Even though the Post-Impressionist painters were not well known in their lifetimes, they became so famous that in the 21st century their paintings sell for millions of dollars.

Gallery[change | edit source]

Click on each image to enlarge it, to see the way each artist has used brush-strokes and colour.

Other pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Roger Fry and Modern Art, Tate archive, accessed 25-11-2010