Exploring Post-Impressionism: Art Beyond the Norm

Post-Impressionism is a unique and innovative movement that took the art world by storm right after the Impressionist era.

It’s a term that encompasses a diverse range of styles and artists who all shared a desire to push beyond the boundaries of Impressionism.

In this article, we’ll explore the defining characteristics of Post-Impressionism and how it paved the way for modern art.

We’ll jump into the works of key Post-Impressionist artists and understand their influence on the direction of art in the 20th century.

What Is Post-impressionism?

Post-Impressionism is an art movement that flourished primarily between 1886 and 1905.

It’s renowned for its bold departure from Impressionism – the previous dominant art style that focused on capturing fleeting moments and the play of light.

We recognize Post-Impressionism for its desire to imbue greater significance, structure, and form to the canvas, often with vivid colors and expressive brushwork.

Artists in the Post-Impressionism movement pursued their own individual styles, sharing the common goal of challenging the limitations of Impressionism.

They were not a cohesive group, but their efforts collectively shaped the direction of modern art.

Not bound by a singular technique, they experimented with color, form, and texture, leading to the development of several distinct approaches within the movement:

  • Pointillism, as seen in Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,
  • Paul Cézanne’s explorations of geometric simplification in works like Mont Sainte-Victoire,
  • Vincent van Gogh’s expressive and emotional use of line and color in Starry Night,
  • Paul Gauguin’s symbolism and use of color in Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

The impact of their innovations is evident in the various art movements that followed, influencing various disciplines including ours – filmmaking.

As filmmakers, we draw upon the Post-Impressionists’ bold use of color and form to create compelling visual narratives, evoking emotions and constructing meaning beyond the transient moment.


Characteristics Of Post-impressionism

Understanding the nuances of Post-Impressionism involves recognizing several key characteristics that set it apart from other movements.

Each Post-Impressionist artist offered a unique perspective, but here are some commonalities they shared:

  • Individualistic styles – Artists pursued their own aesthetic, which led to a diverse range of techniques and subjects.
  • Emphasis on abstract qualities – There was a shift towards the symbolic representation of subjects.
  • Strategic use of color – Artists often used colors purposively, rather than relying solely on the depiction of natural light and shade.

These qualities combined to give Post-Impressionist works their signature look.

Artists like Georges Seurat introduced pointillism, which is characterized by the application of distinct dots of color to form an image.

This technique was a drastic departure from the broader strokes associated with Impressionism.

The structure and form were paramount for artists like Paul Cézanne who often depicted objects from multiple perspectives within a single work.

In The Basket of Apples, viewers can see an intentional distortion of perspective, challenging the way we perceive space and form.

Vincent van Gogh used bold colors and dramatic, impulsive brushstrokes to convey emotions, a style that has become synonymous with his name.

His work Starry Night vividly illustrates these methods and showcases the intensity and passion he brought to the canvas.

Color, structure, and a deeper expression of emotion and meaning paved the path for future generations of artists.

The innovations of Post-Impressionism went on to influence numerous other art movements, including Expressionism and Cubism.

In our realm of filmmaking, these principles have been instrumental in driving narrative and visual storytelling, impacting everything from production design to color grading.

Key Artists And Their Works

We’ll now jump into some of the most influential Post-Impressionist artists and their groundbreaking works.

These masterpieces not only define the era but also paved the way for modern art.


Georges Seurat And Pointillism

Georges Seurat is renowned for his innovation of pointillism – a technique of painting in small, distinct dots of color that, when viewed from a distance, blend together to form an image.

His most celebrated work, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is a quintessential example of this method.

The meticulous attention to light and shadow in Seurat’s work exemplifies the Post-Impressionist focus on individual perception over realism.

Paul Cézanne And His Approach To Form

Paul Cézanne’s unique treatment of form, color, and composition challenged conventional notions of perspective.

He is often referred to as the “father of modern art” and is praised for his structural use of color.

His works, like Mont Sainte-Victoire and The Bathers, showcase his mastery of creating depth and volume on a flat canvas through the use of brushstrokes and variations in color intensity.

Vincent Van Gogh And Emotional Expression

The emotional intensity of Vincent van Gogh’s art is unmistakable.

His turbulent psyche reflects in his swirling brushstrokes and vibrant color palette.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Sunflowers are just a few examples of how his mental state influenced his perception of nature and his surroundings, thereby allowing him to communicate emotion through his art.

His work embodies the essence of Post-Impressionism with its emphasis on the artist’s inner feelings and response to the subject matter rather than mirroring reality.


In considering the breadth of their achievements, these artists have offered us more than just beautiful artworks; they have presented us with a new way to interpret the world through the lens of personal experience and emotion.

Their legacies endure, continuously inspiring generations of artists and filmmakers.

Influence Of Post-impressionism On Modern Art

The legacy of Post-Impressionism runs deep within the veins of modern art.

Artists across generations have been influenced by the movement’s emphasis on personal expression and non-traditional techniques.

We see this impact clearly in the advent of movements such as Cubism and Fauvism – both of which owe a great deal to the bold use of color and innovative forms that Post-Impressionists pioneered.

In Cubism, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the fragmentation of objects and the canvas’s two-dimensional surface are evocative of Paul Cézanne’s explorations in form.

Picasso himself acknowledged Cézanne’s significant role in shaping these modern art practices.

The revolutionary characteristics of Cubism include:

  • An emphasis on the flatness of the canvas,
  • Multiple perspectives presented simultaneously,
  • The breakdown of objects into geometric forms.

Similarly, Fauvism absorbed and amplified the vibrancy of Post-Impressionist color palettes.

Henri Matisse and his contemporaries took cues from Vincent van Gogh’s expressive use of color, pushing it further into realms of abstraction and emotion.

Their intense coloration and bold brushstrokes rejected representational values, setting the stage for abstract art’s development.

Post-Impressionism also influenced the Expressionist movement, both in Europe and as it migrated to America.

The emotional intensity found in the works of Edvard Munch and the broader Expressionist community echoes the depth of feeling present in Van Gogh’s swirls and dynamic lines.

They embraced subjectivity, giving rise to cinematic expressions within film noir and more visually stylized cinematic movements.

On a broader scale, the Post-Impressionism movement empowered artists to see beyond the confines of academic art and to trust their vision, which has become a foundational credo in modern and contemporary art.

This shift towards individualism in art leads us to embrace a multitude of perspectives and narratives in the wider cultural landscape, from gallery walls to the silver screen.

What Is Post Impressionism In Art – Wrap Up

We’ve seen how Post-Impressionism set the stage for a revolution in art, encouraging a break from traditional forms and a bold step towards modernism.

Artists like Seurat, Cézanne, and van Gogh didn’t just paint; they transformed the canvas into a field of personal expression and innovation.

Their legacy is evident in the way we perceive and value art today, with their influence reaching far beyond the easel to shape the very fabric of contemporary culture.

Embracing our individual perspectives, we continue to celebrate the daring spirit of Post-Impressionism in every stroke of creativity that challenges the status quo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Post-impressionism?

Post-Impressionism is an art movement that developed in the late 19th century as a reaction to Impressionism.

It emphasizes a more personal and symbolic approach to painting, focusing on geometric forms, distortion for expressive effect, and bold colors.

Who Are The Key Post-impressionist Artists?

The key Post-Impressionist artists include Georges Seurat, known for pointillism; Paul Cézanne, noted for his unique treatment of form and color; and Vincent van Gogh, famous for his intense emotional expression and vibrant use of paint.

What Is Pointillism?

Pointillism is a technique of painting developed by Georges Seurat where small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image.

What Is The Significance Of “a Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte”?

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is a landmark painting by Georges Seurat and is significant as one of the most famous examples of the pointillism technique.

How Did Post-impressionism Influence Cubism?

Post-Impressionism influenced Cubism by inspiring artists like Picasso and Braque to explore deconstructed form and perspective, drawing on Paul Cézanne’s experimental approach to shape and space.

What Is The Connection Between Post-impressionism And Fauvism?

Fauvism was influenced by Post-Impressionism’s use of vivid, non-naturalistic colors and expressive brushwork, creating boldly colored and simplified paintings.

How Did Post-impressionism Affect Modern Art?

Post-Impressionism had a profound impact on modern art, fostering the development of movements such as Cubism, Fauvism, and Expressionism and promoting the idea of art as a personal, expressive act.

What Impact Did Post-impressionism Have On Cinematic Styles?

Post-Impressionism impacted cinematic styles by influencing the visual aesthetic of film noir and other stylized genres, where expressive visuals create narratives with deep emotional layers.