The famous post-impressionist artists of the past re-shaped and re-defined the art of their period and influenced, with their progressive ideas and above all their investigative and forceful spirits, the modern art of the 20th-century. The lingering traces of the geometrical abstraction and the play with the double perspective of Cezanne’s still life paintings entranced the artists and the Cubism movement later to come, while the forceful application of color and the cutting energy of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, paved the way to Expressionism.
Rebelling against the spirit of the Impressionism movement, and their investigation into the ephemeral quality of color, light, and the investigation into the perception of the eye, post-impressionism artists continued to build the reflections of the everyday and the ordinary life. Bringing back the structure and the subject matter to their paintings, a variety of approaches and influences echoed through the movement. The Japanese prints, distant shores of Tahiti, the nightlife of the Paris' cafes and bars, blinding Sun of the South of France, and the merge of mathematics and art, all of the above created some of the most famous pieces which allowed for the post-impressionism artists to continue living through their art. Today, Widewalls, is taking you back into the past and with the list of artists that follows, will create a time traveling experience into the one of the most inspirational and influential movements in art history. Please continue reading to experience the works of some of the most influential post-impressionism artists.
Editors’ Tip: Post-Impressionism (World of Art)
The book is an excellent survey of an era that is difficult to sum up. Exploring different points of inspiration, from the Japanese prints to the ‘primitive’ sculptures, the book explores the different artistic groupings, a variety of subject matter, and numerous experiments, which rebelled against Impressionism and made way for later, and most influential, art developments. If you wish to understand, what happened after Impressionism, and what were the most important themes and approaches of artists, such as Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Van Gogh and much more, then this is a must-have book for you.
Who better to start our list than the great Paul Cezanne, considered the ‘father of us all’ by the famous Pablo Picasso? Cezanne’s art, predominantly from the last three decades of his life, established new paradigm and concepts that influenced the modern art of the 20th century. Exploring the pictorial planes and understanding any object to poses the base in the simple geometrical shapes, Cezanne frequently changed the subject matter of his paintings. His famous still life painting Rideau Cruchon et Compotier, showcases the mastery of Cezanne’s approach to everyday objects. The play of the double perspective created in this work is an introduction to Picasso’s cubism. The mentioned painting is, in fact, the most expensive still life ever sold at an auction.
Featured image: Paul Cezanne - Rideau Cruchon et Compotier. Image via mostfamousartwork.blogspot.com
Famous for his method of painting and the building of the canvas surface with the use of dots known as Pointillism, Georges Seurat was fascinated by a range of scientific ideas about color, form, and expression. His innovative ideas reflected the experimental and free spirit of science experiments but the graceful beauty of his work is understood as influenced by the classical art. Holding on the belief that the great modern art would present contemporary life in ways similar to classical art, his most celebrated works like the painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte, show the merge of science and aesthetic concerns. It took Seurat two years to paint the painting, and he spent much of his time sketching in the park in preparation. The en plein air, explored by the Impressionism artists, Seurat took to another level. Concentrating like the artists before him on the application of color and research into the perception of the eye, Seurat left a heritage of one of the most iconic pieces of art.
Featured image: Georges Seurat - Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. Image via Wikipedia.org
The legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh stands as one of the most iconic artists of all time, with his name written down as the greatest painter in history. His works showcase the fusion of form and content, the powerful, sensual, imaginative, and emotional paintings express the inner turmoil and the screams of Van Gogh’s soul. Remaining poor and virtually unknown throughout his life, the painter is a symbol for an artist willing to give all for his art. The screaming colors and the evident brushstrokes seem to attack the canvas at every stroke, fighting for expression and acknowledgment that only came after the artist’s death. During his lifetime, Van Gogh managed to sell only one painting, which today are considered as the most expensive possessions in the world.
Featured image: Vincent Van Gogh – The Starry Night, detail. Image via wikiart.org
Leaving his job as a stockbroker, his wife, and five children, and lifting his painting to new heights, Paul Gauguin became an iconic figure that dismissed the European painting, which he saw as imitative and deprived of symbolic depth. Sailing to the islands of Tahiti, the painter settled down in the magic of the tropical paradise and was inspired by the primitivism of the land. Breaking away from the classical postulates of painting, Gauguin’s work explored the symbolic nature of the primitive culture he immersed himself in and today he is most recognized for his experimental use of color and synthetist style that was distinctly different from Impressionism.
Featured image: Paul Gauguin – Vision After the Sermon. Image via gauguingallery.com
Born in an aristocratic family and physically disabled due to a genetic disorder, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is one of the most famous post-impressionism artists. A keen observer of the social culture and the urban life, Toulouse-Lautrec is famous for his keen depictions of the theatrical and vibrant life of Paris in the late 19th-century in his characteristic linear style. Exploring the painting medium, he is also world famous for his lithography and illustrations in the art nouveau style, and for the design of the Moulin Rouge’s legendary posters. He was the first artist to elevate advertising to the status of fine art, and this was a major shift in the history of art, were the poster designs by the artist erased the borders between high and low art.
Featured image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – At the Moulin Rouge. Image via www.mirror.co.uk.
Admired for revealing the new possibilities of simplicity by Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Rousseau dedicated his life to painting at the age of forty-nine. The lack of classical art education is evident in Rousseau’s paintings, which lack the finished rendering of the painted canvas. His amateurish technique and unusual composition brought the artist the label as one of the naïve artists among the post-impressionism artists of his circle. Parisian journalist memorably wrote, "Monsieur Rousseau paints with his feet with his eyes closed." This quality of Rousseau’s work resonated with the early modern artists such as Picasso, who admired the painter's sincerity and direct approach. Influenced by the fusion of the high and low art sources – postcards, illustrations, classical sculptures and frequent trips to the Paris public zoo and gardens, Rousseau created unconventional examples of traditional genres in painting, such as landscape, portraiture, and most famously, a nude woman reclining on a sofa mystifyingly located in a tropical jungle.
Featured image: Henri Rousseau – The Dream. Image via Wikipedia.org
Edvard Munch preoccupied his art with subjects of human mortality, chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspirations. Following from the progressive ideas of Impressionism, Munch took much from the symbolist sensibility of Paul Gauguin and became one of the most influential artists of the new generation of expressionist and symbolist painters. Developing at the moment of the peak of the Art Nouveau movement, and the focus on the organic, decorative surfaces, Munch broke away from the decorative application and similarly to Vincent Van Gogh, struggled to record a connection between the subject as observed in the world, and the emotional, psychological, and spiritual perception. His semi-abstract paintings, with the forceful application of paint and use of color, left a considerable impact for artists to come.
Featured image: Edward Munch – The Scream, detail. Image via Wikipedia.org
Henri Matisse is best known for his use of color and the fluid and original craftsmanship. Commonly regarded as a revolutionary artist, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, the painter helped define the progressive developments in the plastic arts of the 20th-century. Initially labeled as Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920’s he was considered as a keeper of the classical tradition in French painting. The decorative surface of his paintings, the color combination, and the play of the flat surfaces, in both his paintings and drawings, as well as later his cut-outs, won this artist recognition as a leading figure in modern art.
Featured image: Henri Matisse – The Dance II. Image via art-matisse.com<. All images used for illustrative purposes only./h6>