What Is Post-impressionism?

Post-impressionism referred to the art following the impressionism from 1980s to 1990s in France. The title of post-impressionism was created by the British art critic R. Fray. The main representatives were P. Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and P. Gauguin. They all differently followed the impressionism and gradually dissatisfied with the over stress on objective performance of impressionism and the one-sided pursuit of outer light and color of new impressionism. Then they advocated stronger expression of one's own feelings.

Although they had the common tendency of creation, they still had their own distinctive artistic personality.

Two Tahitian Women

Two Tahitian Women

Cezanne paid attention to the performance of material specificity, stability and internal structure, which greatly promoted the cubism and constructivism. In his whole life, Cezanne were in the pursuit of forever life and solid structures in his heart to create the sense of weight, volume, stability and grandeur and finally achieved the simple and geometric effects. All of these made him become the ancestor of future cubism and abstract.

Vincent Van Gogh sought the expressive power of lines and colors as well as the decorative effect of the pictures, which directly inspired fauvism and expressionism. The new painting style of Van Gogh could be considered as impressionism and new impressionism. The combination of Japanese Ukiyoe prints with his personal qualities was the result of eastern and western paintings. A prominent character in Van Gogh's paintings was to strongly express his won personality. Someone said, his paintings were all his self portraits.

Gauguin advocated not to face the real objects, but to paint by virtue of memories. He also supported for integrated and symbolic aesthetics principles. He focused more on the originality and symbolism of art performance which exerted an important effect on symbolism and surrealism. Post-impressionism completely abandoned the naturalistic attitude, shook the root of imitation-function in western paintings, and brought paintings to a fresher subjective world permeated with strong feelings, which provided a useful paradigm for western modern art forms in the 20th century.

These three artists did not get social recognition until a long time after their death. They opened the door of modern art. Under the impact of their creative thinking and artistic concepts, fauvism, cubism, expressionism and abstract were formed. It was them that completely changed western paintings which were transferred from objective reproduction to subjective performance and then to the modern world. They were known as the Father of Modern Art.

Strictly speaking, post-impressionism was not a painting genre. There was no group, no joint art exhibition and no declaration. Just these three people were born out of impressionism and shared the common creation tendency. The later art historians found that they were associated with impressionism, but different from it, so they called them post-impressionists.

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