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Discovering Impressionism and Postimpressionism: Revolutionizing the Art World

Introduction to Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Art has always been a way for people to express themselves and tell a story. Throughout history, several painting styles have emerged, each with their unique characteristics and techniques.

In this article, we will explore two of the most influential art movements of the 19th century, Impressionism and Postimpressionism. We will delve into the meaning of painting, discuss the features of each art movement, and the techniques used by the artists.

Definition of Painting and Painting Styles

Paintings are a form of art where an artist creates a two-dimensional image on a canvas or a flat surface using pigments, dyes, or other types of colorants. Paintings can be created using different styles, including realistic, abstract, stylized, and expressionistic.

Each style has its unique characteristics that make it distinct.

Impressionism and Postimpressionism as Art Movements

Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two art movements that emerged in France in the late 19th century. Impressionism started in the 1860s and lasted until the 1880s, while Postimpressionism covered the period from the 1880s to the early 1900s.

These art movements challenged the traditional ways of painting and were characterised by their use of light, color, and everyday subjects.

Characteristics of Impressionism

Impressionism is known for its use of small brushstrokes that aim to capture the changing effects of light on a subject. It seeks to represent the visual impression of a moment rather than a realistic portrayal of a scene.

Ordinary subject matter was a popular choice for Impressionist painters such as landscapes, still life, and portraits. Open composition, where the subject is shown in motion or unfinished, is another hallmark of Impressionism.

Color is also a significant element of the Impressionist style, with emphasis placed on the use of bright and vibrant colors to capture the essence of the moment.

Techniques used in Impressionism

Impressionist painters used many specific techniques that define their signature style. One of their notable techniques is the practice of not using back paint, which creates a translucent effect, allowing the colors to mix during the viewing process.

Mixing colors is also an essential aspect of the Impressionist style, allowing the painter to create a complimentary and colorful picture. Wet-on-wet technique, where wet paint is applied to an already wet surface, is also a common technique used by Impressionist painters.

This technique creates an opaque surface texture that has a distinct visual and tactile quality.

Characteristics of Postimpressionism

Postimpressionism emerged in the late 19th century as a counter to Impressionism’s prevailing style. Although it shares some characteristics with Impressionism, it is a style that emphasises the artist’s interpretation of a subject rather than a visual representation.

Postimpressionism is known for utilizing vibrant color palettes, bold brushstrokes, and unconventional compositions. The artists focused on individual, subjective responses to nature, and feelings rather than objective observations.

Techniques used in Postimpressionism

Postimpressionists used a wide range of techniques and approaches to create their style. Pointillism, where small dots of color are placed close together, is one of the distinctive techniques used by Postimpressionist painters.

This technique allows the colors to blend in the viewer’s eyes, creating a more vibrant and energetic painting. Another technique used by Postimpressionists is the use of unusual proportions that allow them to emphasize specific elements of the picture.


In conclusion, Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two of the most significant art movements of the 19th century. Impressionism focusses on the visual impression of a moment, with small brushstrokes and vibrant and bright color schemes.

Postimpressionism, on the other hand, focused on the artist’s subjective interpretation, with vibrant color palettes and unconventional compositions. These art movements have contributed significantly to the development of modern art, with their unique techniques and styles still heavily influencing contemporary painters today.


Differences between Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Although Postimpressionism shares characteristics with Impressionism, there are some differences between the two art movements. Postimpressionism’s primary goal was to emphasize the artist’s interpretation of a subject or scene, unlike Impressionism, which aimed to capture the visual impression of a moment.

Postimpressionists also used more geometric forms in their paintings, which they employed to compose the elements and represent emotion. Unnatural colors were another distinguishing characteristic of Postimpressionism.

Artists used bold and vibrant colors in their paintings to express emotions and represent the subjects more accurately. Another difference between Impressionism and Postimpressionism is the location in which the paintings were made.

Impressionist painters created their works outdoors, while Postimpressionists often worked in studios. Through studio work, Postimpressionists had more control over the environment, lighting, and mood of their works.

Postimpressionist painters also followed a more methodical process than Impressionists. The Postimpressionist approach was more about understanding and interpreting the subject’s underlying structure, whereas Impressionism was more about capturing the fleeting moment.

The Postimpressionist approach encouraged artists to explore and experiment with new methods to express their ideas, leading to more significant variability in style and technique than Impressionism.

Postimpressionist Artists

Several artists contributed to the evolution of Postimpressionism, each with their style and unique approach to painting. Vincent van Gogh is the most well-known Postimpressionist painter, famous for his emotionally intense works and brightly-colored canvases.

He explored the use of complementary colors and bold brushwork, often depicting his subjects with stylized, exaggerated forms. Another significant Postimpressionist painter is Paul Gauguin, who explored the exotic and unconventional, using bright colors and bold, decorative patterns.

Georges Seurat is also considered a significant Postimpressionist painter, his style characterised by pointillism placing small dots of color side by side, which interact optically in the viewer’s eyes to create a more stunning effect.

Impact of Impressionism and Postimpressionism on Art

Influence of Impressionism on Art Movements

Impressionism has considerably influenced many art movements that emerged after it, such as Neo-impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Neo-impressionism expands on the technique of Impressionism by focusing on the subjective response to the stimulus and exploring the effects of color theory on painting.

The technique aims to develop ways of rendering color and creating form that would be impossible with traditional techniques. Fauvism, also known as ”wild beasts,” emphasizes bold color, loose structures, and gestural mark-making.

Fauvist painters were inspired by the works of Impressionists, as each piece was intended to capture a fleeting moment. Cubism also drew inspiration from Impressionism, particularly the use of compositional elements and the representation of form through color.

Postimpressionism’s Contribution to Modern Art

Postimpressionism’s contribution to modern art lies in the concepts of individualism, emotions, and ideas that artists explored through their works. Postimpressionist painters focused on the artist’s interpretation of the subject, leading to a more substantial emphasis on individualism and personal expression.

The Postimpressionist movement encouraged artists to create works of deeper philosophical and emotional meaning, using bold and imaginative techniques. The modern art world can still find inspiration in the works of Postimpressionist painters today, as they continue to influence and shape contemporary art movements.


In conclusion, Postimpressionism was a pivotal moment in the history of art, where artists expanded on the techniques and practices of Impressionism to develop new ways of expressing themselves. The style emphasized individualism, emotions, and new concepts that paved the way for modern art movements.

Postimpressionist painters expressed themselves using a range of techniques, such as pointillism, vibrant color, and unusual compositions, to create expressive and imaginative works. Impressionism and Postimpressionism have significantly influenced the development of art over the years, with their distinct styles and techniques still evident in contemporary art today.


Throughout this article, we have explored the world of Impressionism and Postimpressionism, two art movements that emerged in the late 19th century and revolutionized the way artists approach painting. We have learned about the characteristics and techniques of each movement and the significant contributions that Impressionist and Postimpressionist painters made to the evolution of modern art.

Summary of Main Points

Impressionism aimed to capture the visual impression of a moment, using small brushstrokes, ordinary subject matter, open composition, and color emphasis.

Techniques used in Impressionism included the use of wet-on-wet and mixing colors.

Postimpressionism, on the other hand, emphasized the artist’s interpretation of the subject and used more geometric forms, unnatural colors, and experimental compositions. Pointillism was a common technique used in Postimpressionism to create vibrant optical effects.

The painters Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Georges Seurat were all Postimpressionists who contributed significantly to the evolution of this art movement.

Significance of Impressionism and Postimpressionism

Impressionism and Postimpressionism were significant moments in the history of artistic expression and painting styles. These art movements introduced new ways of painting, new techniques, and new concepts, changing the conventional way of painting that existed before.

Impressionism sought to capture the fleeting moments of life while Postimpressionism attempted to create a deeper meaning of the subject and subjectivity. These movements paved the way for the evolution of modern art by encouraging artists to explore different techniques to bring their personal expression to the canvas.

Impressionism and Postimpressionism have had a significant impact on the development of modern art. Artists of the 20th century continued to draw inspiration from these movements, creating new approaches, techniques, and styles that build upon the foundation of Impressionism and Postimpressionism.

These movements influenced the evolution of modern art by introducing a more individualistic and experimental approach to painting, promoting the idea that each artist is providing their unique interpretation of the subject, and artistic expression is infinite.


In conclusion, Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two important art movements in the art world that continue to have a significant impact on modern art today. Through the use of groundbreaking techniques and new concepts, the painters of Impressionism and Postimpressionism have left a lasting legacy that has inspired countless artists who have come after them.

The creative freedom championed by these movements ushered in a new era of artistic expression in the early 20th century, leading to the evolution of art and changing the artist’s role forever. Impressionism and Postimpressionism are two of the most important art movements that emerged in the late 19th century, revolutionizing the way artists approach painting.

Impressionism aimed to capture the visual impression of a moment using small brushstrokes, ordinary subject matter, and color emphasis, while Postimpressionism emphasized an artist’s interpretation of the subject using geometric forms, vibrant colors, and experimental compositions. These movements paved the way for modern art, encouraging artists to explore individualism, emotions, and new ideas, leading to the evolution of art as we know it today.

The impact of Impressionism and Postimpressionism on modern art is undeniable, as they continue to inspire artists, artworks, and art movements in the present day.

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