As the name implies, Post-Impressionism denotes a variety of art movements that followed in the wake of Impressionism. The term was first coined by Roger Fry with his seminal London exhibition of 1910, Manet and the Post-Impressionists. Although rather imprecise, it normally refers to the major innovations developed during the 1880s by Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. All four, in their own distinct ways, reacted against Impressionism’s ‘simple’ naturalism and its emphasis on capturing momentary effects of light. In place of this transient ‘softness’, Seurat put rigorous scientific color theory at the heart of his Divisionism (also known as ‘Pointillism’). Similarly, Cézanne’s own groundbreaking style aimed ‘to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring’. Gauguin and van Gogh both renounced the idea that art should aim at representing outward appearances at all. Rather, they believed that it should be a vehicle for expressing the artist’s inner world of emotion. In their respective searches for a new visual language, Gauguin’s Symbolism relied on painting from imagination, whilst Van Gogh’s Expressionism pulsed with thick impasto brushstrokes. All four of these Post-Impressionist experiments in the use of line and color set painting on a journey away from realism towards full-abstraction.
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