An introduction to the history of postimpressionism

Overview[ edit ] The Post-Impressionists were dissatisfied with what they felt was the triviality of subject matter and the loss of structure in Impressionist paintings, though they did not agree on the way forward. Georges Seurat and his followers concerned themselves with Pointillismthe systematic use of tiny dots of colour. The Impressionist Camille Pissarro experimented with Neo-Impressionist ideas between the mids and the early s. Discontented with what he referred to as romantic Impressionism, he investigated Pointillismwhich he called scientific Impressionism, before returning to a purer Impressionism in the last decade of his life.

There is no general agreement on exactly what chronology is implied by the An introduction to the history of postimpressionism or which artists are to be deemed Postimpressionists.

When a large exhibition entitled Post impressionism: Cross Currents in European Painting was presented at the Royal Academy in London in I, and then travelled to Washington, controversy on the imprecision of the term was revived. In order to simplify a complex issue, we will use Postimpressionism to mean the period of roughly to in France.

The dates are relatively arbitrary; the last impressionist Exhibition was held in. Furthermore, we will concern ourselves predominantly with artists of some considerable significance. The term "Post- Impressionism" was invented by Roger Fry in when he was obliged to think of a suitahle name for a group of French artists whose work he was to exhibit at the Grafton Galleries, London.

According to Desmond MacCarthy, who assisted Fry with the organisation of the exhibition, the derivation of the name was spontaneous.

Recalling the events of35 years later, MacCarthy wrote: Roger and I and a young journalist who was to help us with publicity met, to consider this; and it was at that meeting that a word which is now safely embedded in the English language - "post-impressionism" - was invented.

Roger first suggested various terms like "expressionism", which aimed at distinguishing these artists from the impressionists; but the journalist wouldn't have that or any other of his alternatives.

At last Roger, losing patience, said: In this way, "Manet and the Post-Impressionists" was launched at the Grafton Galleries and the exhibition took place from November 8,to January 15, The selection of work had largely been the responsibility of Fry.

The availability of paintings, the cooperation of important dealers, and Fry's own taste were factors. Manet, who received equal billing with the "Post-Impressionists", was relatively well known in England, owing to the efforts of Whistler, Sickert, Steer and George Moore, who had helped to foster a gradual awareness of French Impressionism.

Manet's work had also been shown in the spring of at the international Society Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries. Few of the other artists at Fry's exhibition were known at all.

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Not only did these names group the living and the dead, men known in artistic circles during the 19th century and men who were attracting attention in Paris in the early 20th, but there were vast discrepancies in the numbers of works by the various painters. As a result, certain modes of expression, as well as certain individual styles, were better represented than others; a unifying style or theme was difficult to locate.

The name Fry coined for the artists was a compromise, born of the needs of the moment and his exasperation, but, it does, nevertheless, confer some collective identify upon the group. In his essay, "Retrospect", he recalled: This merely stated their position in time relatively to the Impressionist movement.

In claiming that the artists whose work he had assembled came after the Impressionists, he implies that time contributes towards the formulation of style and that an artist's reaction to his situation in history influences his art.

Initially Fry was uncertain about what stylistic characteristics, if any, his exhibitors shared. He found the key to a theory once he worked from a negative line of reasoning. The paintings and drawings he had collected were not only, for the most part, chronologically later than Impressionism, but the visual organisation of pictorial elements suggested that the artists, collectively, had rejected Impressionist objectives and techniques.


Fry defined the pivotal aim of Impressionism as mimesis of the three-dimensional, visible world, believing that French Impressionism was the later 19th century manifestation of an objective which had, for several centuries, directed Western art towards the rendering of reality in paint.

He expounded his ideas in one of his apologia for the Grafton Gallery artists, and wrote as follows: They represent, indeed, the latest, and, I believe, the most successful, attempt to go behind the too elaborate pictorial apparatus which the Renaissance established in painting.

This essentially conservative public was unsympathetic to Modernism; so Fry suggested not that the artists were radically innovative, but that they were traditionalists returning to well-established visual precedents. He argued that the Postimpressionists were "cutting away the merely representative element in art to establish more and more firmly the fundamental laws of expressive form in its earliest, most abstract element".

This ideological definition of Postimpressionism rests upon two assumptions. Firstly, a group of artists had discarded verisimilitude as a conceptual objective and illusionistic devices as the technical means to render reality. Secondly, the artists were adopting conventions which had been intrinsic to pre-Renaissance Western art.

Bywhen Fry wrote the preface to the catalogue of the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, he was able to articulate his theories succinctly.Post-Impressionism to World War II is an exciting anthology of the best art history writings of the Post-Impressionist period.

An introduction to the history of postimpressionism

Several key essays by critics including Benjamin, Greenberg and Bürger knit together primary sources and classic, “canonical” criticism.

The term "Post-Impressionism" was invented by the English painter and critic Roger Fry as he prepared for an exhibition at the Grafton Gallery in London in The show, held November 8, –January 15, ) was called "Manet and the Post-Impressionists," a canny marketing ploy which paired a.

An introduction to the history of postimpressionism

Post-Impressionism to World War II is an exciting anthologyof the best art history writings of the Post-Impressionist initiativeblog.coml key essays by critics including Benjamin, Greenberg andBürger knit together primary sources and classic,“canonical” initiativeblog.coms: 2.

“Through their radically independent styles and dedication to pursuing unique means of artistic expression, the Post-Impressionists dramatically influenced generations of artists.”. Vincent van Gogh: Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter, commonly associated with the Post-Impressionist period.

As one of the most prolific and experimental artists of his time, van Gogh was a spontaneous painter and a master of color and perspective. The term Post-Impressionism applies to the artists that, around and after the s, were both developing and deviating or departing from the original aspects of Impressionism.

Introduction to the History of Art: POST-IMPRESSIONISM