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Post-Impressionism

Post-Impressionism was an attempt to break free of the naturalism of Impressionism in the late 1880's. A term coined by British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910, Fry used the term in an exhibition that he organized called 'Manet and the Post-Impressionists'. Post-Impressionists pushed the ideas of Impressionism into new directions. These young painters strived for independent artistic styles as means to express emotion as opposed to simple optical impressions with special emphasis on themes of deeper symbolism. Dissatisfied with the triviality of the subject matter and the loss of structure, Post Impressionists sought to create art with a greater degree of formal order and structure. Although, like Impressionists, Post-Impressionists stressed on the artificiality of the picture, they also believed that color could be rendered distinct from the form and composition as an emotional and aesthetic bearer of meaning. The movement lasted from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s and spurned various styles though different artists, all of whom took an aspect of Impressionism and exaggerated it. For instance, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) experimented by adding vibrancy by painting bold colors thickly on the canvas in a technique known as the 'Impasto'. The expression of emotional qualities through the forceful brushstrokes caused him to be termed as a proponent of Expressionism. Paul Gauguin (1848 -1903) and Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) were other post-impressionist artists.


Paul Gauguin, The Yellow Christ, 1889, Albright-Knox Art Gallery ( Buffalo, NY).