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Difference Between Impressionism and Postimpressionism

  • Post last modified:April 9, 2023
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Explanation of Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two distinct art movements that emerged in France in the late 19th century. Impressionism emerged in the 1870s and is characterized by an emphasis on capturing the sensory experience of a moment in time, particularly through the depiction of light and color. Impressionist artists often worked en plein air (outdoors) to capture the changing light and atmosphere of a scene. They also used loose brushstrokes and open compositions to convey a sense of movement and spontaneity.

Postimpressionism emerged in the 1880s as a departure from Impressionism. Postimpressionist artists sought to move beyond the purely sensory experience of Impressionism and instead explore more complex ideas and emotions through their art. They often experimented with form and structure, using color to express emotions and ideas. Postimpressionist artists also began to explore more subjective experiences, such as the internal emotions of the individual or the psychological effects of color and form.

Impressionism and Postimpressionism represent two distinct approaches to art-making, with Impressionism emphasizing the sensory experience and Postimpressionism exploring more complex emotional and psychological ideas.

Importance of understanding the differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Understanding the differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism is important for a few reasons:

  1. Appreciation of art history: Impressionism and Postimpressionism were important movements in the history of art, and understanding the differences between them can help us appreciate their significance and influence on later art movements.
  2. Understanding of artistic techniques: Impressionism and Postimpressionism each have their own distinct artistic techniques and styles, and understanding these techniques can help us appreciate the complexity and skill involved in creating these works of art.
  3. Interpretation of art: Understanding the differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism can also help us interpret the meaning and intention behind different works of art. For example, an Impressionist painting may be interpreted as capturing a fleeting moment in time, while a Postimpressionist painting may be interpreted as expressing complex emotional and psychological ideas.
  4. Contextualization of art: Understanding the historical and cultural context in which Impressionism and Postimpressionism emerged can help us better understand the social and artistic influences that shaped these movements.

Understanding the differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism is important for gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of art history, artistic techniques, interpretation of art, and the cultural context in which these movements emerged.

Impressionism

Impressionism is an art movement that emerged in the 1870s in France. Impressionist artists sought to capture the sensory experience of a moment in time, particularly through the depiction of light and color. They often worked en plein air (outdoors) to capture the changing light and atmosphere of a scene. Impressionist paintings are characterized by loose brushstrokes, open compositions, and a focus on the momentary and transient. The subject matter of Impressionist art often centered around everyday life and leisure activities, such as landscapes, city scenes, and people enjoying outdoor activities.

Claude Monet is one of the most famous Impressionist artists, known for his series of paintings of water lilies and his depictions of the French countryside. Other notable Impressionist artists include Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot.

The Impressionist movement had a significant impact on the art world, and its influence can be seen in later art movements such as Fauvism and American Impressionism. Impressionism is often seen as a rejection of the strict academic art traditions of the time, and its focus on the sensory experience paved the way for more experimental and expressive approaches to art-making.

Postimpressionism

Postimpressionism is an art movement that emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction to Impressionism. Postimpressionist artists sought to move beyond the purely sensory experience of Impressionism and instead explore more complex ideas and emotions through their art. They often experimented with form and structure, using color to express emotions and ideas. Postimpressionist artists also began to explore more subjective experiences, such as the internal emotions of the individual or the psychological effects of color and form.

Postimpressionism includes a range of styles and approaches to art-making. Some notable Postimpressionist artists include Vincent van Gogh, who used bold colors and expressive brushstrokes to convey his emotional state, and Paul C├ęzanne, who focused on the underlying structure of forms and sought to create a sense of depth and solidity in his paintings. Georges Seurat developed the technique of pointillism, in which small dots of color are placed next to each other to create a sense of luminosity and depth.

Postimpressionism had a significant impact on the development of modern art, influencing movements such as Fauvism, Expressionism, and Cubism. Postimpressionist artists were interested in exploring the inner world of the individual and the emotional impact of color and form, paving the way for more experimental and abstract approaches to art-making in the 20th century.

Differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Here are some key differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism:

  1. Sensory experience vs. complex emotions: Impressionism is focused on capturing the sensory experience of a moment in time, particularly through the use of light and color, while Postimpressionism seeks to explore more complex emotions and ideas through the use of form, color, and composition.
  2. Realism vs. abstraction: Impressionist paintings often depict recognizable subjects and scenes from everyday life, while Postimpressionist art can be more abstract and subjective, focusing on the internal emotions and experiences of the individual.
  3. Loose brushstrokes vs. structured forms: Impressionist paintings are characterized by loose, visible brushstrokes and open compositions, while Postimpressionist paintings can be more structured, with a focus on underlying forms and solid, geometric shapes.
  4. Momentary vs. timeless: Impressionist paintings often convey a sense of the momentary and fleeting, capturing the changing light and atmosphere of a scene, while Postimpressionist paintings can have a more timeless quality, exploring universal emotions and ideas that transcend any specific moment in time.
  5. Natural light vs. expressive color: Impressionist artists often worked en plein air to capture the changing light and atmosphere of a scene, while Postimpressionist artists used color to express emotions and ideas, often in ways that were not necessarily realistic or naturalistic.

While both Impressionism and Postimpressionism are concerned with capturing the world around them, they approach this goal in very different ways, with Impressionism focusing on the sensory experience of the moment and Postimpressionism delving into the deeper emotions and experiences of the individual.

Conclusion

Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two important art movements that emerged in the late 19th century in France. While both movements were concerned with capturing the world around them, they approach this goal in very different ways. Impressionism sought to capture the sensory experience of a moment in time, focusing on light, color, and atmosphere, while Postimpressionism sought to explore more complex emotions and ideas through form, color, and composition.

The differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism are significant, and understanding these differences can help us appreciate and analyze the art produced during these periods. Impressionism and Postimpressionism have had a lasting impact on the art world, influencing later art movements and paving the way for more experimental and expressive approaches to art-making in the 20th century. By understanding the unique qualities of each movement, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and complexity of these important artistic traditions.

Reference website

Here are some references that you may find useful for further reading on Impressionism and Postimpressionism:

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Impressionism: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm
  2. The National Gallery: Impressionism: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/learn-about-art/paintings-in-depth/impressionism
  3. Tate: Postimpressionism: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/post-impressionism
  4. The Museum of Modern Art: Postimpressionism: https://www.moma.org/artists/399?locale=en
  5. The Art Story: Impressionism: https://www.theartstory.org/movement/impressionism/
  6. The Art Story: Postimpressionism: https://www.theartstory.org/movement/post-impressionism/