What are the characteristics of Post-Impressionism?

Lucas Wils
Publié le 7 June 2023
What are the characteristics of Post-Impressionism?

We are all familiar with the Impressionists, the movement that broke free from academic art to create works in motion and vibrant colors, where the painter represented what they saw. But what about the artists who came after? Museum TV will explain everything about Post-Impressionism!

Artistic freedom

Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool - Claude Monet - Philadelphia Museum of Art

Post-Impressionism is not really characterized as a painting movement. It is more distinguished by a personal style, with a great freedom of treatment.

From May 15th to June 15th, 1886, the eighth and final exhibition of the Impressionist group took place at the Maison Dorée. However, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley were not present. This absence marked the end of Impressionism according to the art critic Felix Fénéon. He wrote in the magazine Vogue: "With this exhibition, Impressionism is definitively dead."

It is at this precise moment that we witness a break from Impressionism, making way for Post-Impressionism. The prominent artists of this period include Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Sérusier.

But what is the difference between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism?

The Starry Night
The Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh - Museum of Modern Art

While the Impressionists find their inspiration in what they observe in front of them, the Post-Impressionists turn their gaze inward. They explore their deep self, their personal reality. In this essentially introspective movement, one can discern the beginnings of Surrealism, where the last barriers of the mind are crossed.

Furthermore, within Post-Impressionism, new artistic movements emerge, such as Pointillism, the Nabis, and Art Nouveau. Thus, Post-Impressionism is characterized more by the individualization of art rather than a codified and unified movement. Indeed, nothing is more different from a Van Gogh than a Gauguin or a Cézanne. Of course, the culture of emancipation is present, but it does not outweigh the personal freedoms of the artists.

To find out more about our programmes on Post-Impressionism, visit our Museum TV streaming platform.