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What is Post-Impressionism?

Like Impressionism, Post-Impressionism is a largely French art movement that developed between 1886-1905. Post-Impressionism occurred between the end of Impressionism and the birth of Fauvism. Post-Impressionism is a broad term that encompasses several off-shoot movements including  Les Nabis, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven School, and Synthetism, along with later Impressionists' work. The movement had notable instigators including Paul Cezanne (known widely as the father of Post-Impressionism), Paul Gaugin, Vinvent Van Gogh, and Georges Surat.

Post-Impressionists became disillusioned with the triviality of the subject matter and loss of aesthetic definition embraced by the Impressionists, though as a whole they had very different ideas about how art and aesthetics should progress. Georges Suart and his followers embraced a style of painting known as Pointillism in which painted images are created through the juxtaposition of numerous differently pigmented dots. Paul Cezanne’s main concern with the progression of Post-Impressionism was to restore a sense of order to painting, embracing more “traditional” aspects of painting, but retaining the saturated color palette of the Impressionists. Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism was marked by vibrant colors and choppy, active brushstrokes.  

Post-Impressionist is, by design a broad term, coined first by Roger Fry in 1910. Fry later explained: "For purposes of convenience, it was necessary to give these artists a name, and I chose, as being the vaguest and most non-committal, the name of Post-Impressionism. This merely stated their position in time relatively to the Impressionist movement."

What were the various schools and movements were contemporaries of Post-Impressionism?

Other schools and movements operating at the same time and in opposition to the Post-Impressionists were movements included:

  • Neo-Impressionism: the late 19th century painting movement founded by Georges Surat, which is characterized by the attempt to make Impressionism more aesthetically precise in form using new painting techniques.

  • Cloisonnism: the late 19th century painting movement characterized by flat forms of bold colors defined by dark contours.

  • Synthetism: a term used by some post-impressionist artists to distinguish their works from the contemporaneous movement of Impressionism. The late 19th century movement strove to synthesize the appearance of natural forms, the artists thoughts on the subject, and purity of artistic elements including color, line, and form.

  • Pont-Aven School: the mid-19th century French movement originally only applied to artists working in the colony of Pont-Aven. Artists of the Pont Aven School were highly influenced by the works of Paul Gaugin and characterized by the use of pure color and Symbolist subjects.

  • Symbolism: the late 19th century art movement permeated the fine arts including literature and poetry. Symbolism is often seen as a revival of the Romantic interest in literary subjects in painting and sculpture. The aesthetics are diverse, but it is often characterized as a deeply introspective movement. 

Who are the most sought-after Post-Impressionist artists?

Like with many artistic movements, the novelty of the movement’s creation is key to the value of the artwork. The “founders” of the artistic movement will almost always be sought after and worth the most to collectors. The taste-makers of Post -Impressionism include  Paul Cézanne (known as father of Post-impressionism), Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. Because Post-Impressionism is such an all-encompassing category, there are many other well-known artists of diverse styles that produced valuable work including: Henri Rousseau and  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

What was the most expensive Post-Impressionist painting ever sold?

Card Players  by Paul Cezanne, that depicts two provincial peasants modeled by local farmhands known to Cezanne, sold for two hundred and fifty million dollars. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) by Gaugin depicts two anonymous Tahitian women among a tropical background and was sold for two hundred and ten million dollars. Both paintings, despite being very different instyle and content, are considered to be Post-Impressionist. 

In fact, the list of the world’s most expensive paintings is densely populated with Post-Impressionist paintings. Vincent Van Gogh’s works are perhaps the most prolific in setting high sale price records.

Lindsey

Lindsey Bourret is the Managing Director at Mearto. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the business, she also enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of the fine art and antiques market with our customers through our website, blog, e-newsletter and social media accounts.

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