Post-Impressionism in Western painting, movement in France that represented both an extension of Impressionism and a rejection of that style"s inherent limitations. The term Post-Impressionism was coined by the English art critic Roger Fry for the work of such late 19th-century painters as Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. All of these painters except van Gogh were French, and most of them began as Impressionists; each of them abandoned the style, however, to form his own highly personal art. Impressionism was based, in its strictest sense, on the objective recording of nature in terms of the fugitive effects of colour and light. The Post-Impressionists rejected this limited aim in favour of more ambitious expression, admitting their debt, however, to the pure, brilliant colours of Impressionism, its freedom from traditional subject matter, and its technique of defining form with short brushstrokes of broken colour. The work of these painters formed a basis for several contemporary trends and for early 20th-century modernism.
Post-Impressionist paintings were a broad reaction against Impressionism. The works continued to use the bright Impressionist palette, but rejected the Impressionism’s emphasis on the spontaneous recording of light and color. Post-Impressionists sought to create art with a greater degree of formal order and structure. The new styles they created, Georges Seurat’s divisionist technique and Vincent van Gogh’s brushwork, led to more abstract styles that would prove highly influential for the development of modernist painting in the early twentieth century.
Post-Impressionist compositions focused on the personal experience of the painter, versus fidelity to the object like in Impressionism; the style of the work, developing a new method of paint application or viewing the piece from multiple angles, was more important than subject matter.