The Difference Between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

Morgan Mucha , Staff Reporter

In France during the 1860s, a new era of art began. Many French painters began working in an advanced way. Art was done quickly in the open, as opposed to the previous setting of a studio full of preliminary sketches. Through the usage of daring and bright color tones, these artists had a goal to express scenes in everyday life without the precision that had long accompanied art. This group of French artists became known as the Impressionists. Many of the artists involved in this category operated in or near Paris, holding meetings regularly. The thoughts and ideas discussed included differences in color speculations, landscape painters, and the realist artists, particularly Édouard Manet. With the abandonment of the traditionalistic styles of art, they rather created art resembling the life around them. This included capturing temporary moments, such as the effects of sunlight on a town. Auguste Renoir is an outstanding example of this spontaneous style. During the 19th century, these artists held aspirations to sell their pieces to a jury who decided if they were to be shown at the Paris Salon, an extremely large annual event. In April 1874, after many rejections, one collection of artists opened their exhibition. One work by Claude Monet titled Impression, Sunrise was foully described by an art critic as including unfinished features and mere impressions, not exhibiting the true qualities of real art. From this point on,

the artistic movement became known as Impressionism. The major Impressionists held eight exhibitions in Paris between 1874 and 1886. Many of the pieces shown were created at odd perspectives and utilized colors for shadowing. The color hues and brushstroke techniques utilized were unconventional and were slowly accepted by the art world. In the 1880s, this style was finally beginning to be admired. The effects of sunlight through painting by the Impressionists were described as en plein air or in the open air. The main aspect of what the artists wanted to capture was the effects of light and weather in naturalistic scenes. This was shown in their pieces of landscapes and everyday life. Because they used bright paints ready-mixed in tubes, they were able to paint outside and near their subjects rather than in the studio. The Impressionists were influenced by realism in their subject matters, creating landscapes from modern life and ordinary people. They hoped to capture the glimpses of life shown through society’s eyes and bright colors. The leader of Impressionism, Claude Monet, moved to Giverny in northern France in 1883. He began building a glorious flower garden surrounding a pond topped with a Japanese-style bridge seven years later. He painted many works through different lighted perspectives, but always on the pond’s edge. After the Impressionism movement, Post-Impressionism occurred, changing art forever. These artists tested color, brushstrokes, and geometric shapes to express their thoughts and ideas in differing ways. In their lifetime, many Post-Impressionistic painters were not given the recognition they deserved and were extremely misunderstood until after their death. One of the most renowned artists of the period was Paul Cezanne. He continuously created topics consisting of still lifes and landscapes. He hoped to dull the shapes and structured portions of everyday things, such as buildings through his work. He conveyed this by utilizing color tones for depth. He was extremely influential in the realm of Cubism, creating a door to abstract art. Some painters steered away from the exploration of naturalistic subjects and wanted to create an inner meaning for their art. A sense of fantasy was the hope. Because of its techniques, this style became known as Symbolism because the art included symbols that were familiar to the population. The French painter Paul Gaugin created his work through strong lines and portions of flat color. Optical effects were also pondered on. Georges Seurat, a French painter, utilized this. He created a technique called pointillism, where miniature dots were placed next to one another. The shapes blend to create glowing, radiant colors when viewed from a distance. One individual vital to the development of the Post-Impressionistic style was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was incredibly inspired by the Impressionistic painter Edgar Degas and his scenes of ballet dancers. His style was extremely different, as Toulouse-Lautrec was involved in the scenes of Paris’ nightlife. In his free time, he designed posters for the Paris nightclubs. He had influences on Japanese art, which explains the curving lines producing the silhouettes of the individuals in the piece. These two eras of art have influenced many art styles that were produced after them. The striking stories and techniques involved in both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism make for tremendous historical value and have affected the world lived in today.