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Impressionism            Neo-Impressionism

Impressionism had far-reaching effects. Painters who began as Impressionists developed other techniques, which started new movements in art. The French painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac painted entire canvases with small dots of colour in a scientific application of Impressionist theory known as Pointillism, sometimes also called Neo-Impressionism. Also the French painter, Camille Pissaro, was adhered to the movement, but returned later to a more free Impressionist style. 

The term Pointillism was coined in 1886 by the art critic Félix Fénéon to describe the style of painting first presented in Seurat's Bathing at Asnières (National Gallery, London), which had been exhibited in 1884 at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. 

Rwanda 1980. Georges Seurat. "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte".

Seurat's aim was to develop and systematize a colour theory that had been formulated haphazardly and without scientific precision by the Impressionists. 

By a technique he called Divisionism (which came to be known as Pointillism) Seurat applied paint to canvas in very small, closely juxtaposed dots of pure undiluted pigment in strong contrasting colours; viewed from a sufficient distance, the dots created a particularly vibrant effect. 

  • Rwanda 1980.  Georges Seurat (1859-1891):  "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte".  

Besides a systematic use of colour, the other basic tenet of Neo-Impressionism was that a picture be deliberately planned and composed. In this, Neo-Impressionism rejected the Impressionist ideal of unstructured objectivity. Seurat's huge "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" (1886, Art Institute of Chicago, shown immediately below) shows the style in its fully mature form and was the chief attraction at the final Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1886.  In its stylization of form, Neo-Impressionism became an important precursor of modern art; a large retrospective of Seurat's work in 1905 was one of the immediate influences on the creation of Cubism. 

The Pointillist style is perhaps even more evident in the two below stamps, particularly "The Black Knot", that only suggests shape and form of the human in the center of the canvas by light and shadow, painted uniquely in little dots of strong contrasting colours.   

France 1991. Georges Seurat. "The Black Knot". France 1969. Georges Seurat. "The Circus".

Paul Signac (1863-1935), French impressionist painter, was born in Paris, and is known as one of the originators of the technique known as pointillism. 

France 2003. Paul Signac. "The Red Buoy".

In 1884 Signac began collaborating with the French painter Georges Seurat, under whose influence he abandoned the short brushstrokes of impressionism to experiment with scientifically juxtaposed dots of pure color, the defining feature of pointillism. 

In Signac's pointillist scenes -- mainly river or seashore views -- the impression of glittering natural sunlight is achieved through placement of the colored dots to create a prismatic effect. The painting on the left is a brilliant example of Signac's Pointillist technique. 

After 1900 Signac moved away from pointillism, opting instead for small squares of color to create a mosaic-like effect, as in View of the Port of Marseilles (1905, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City). 

During this period he also produced vibrant watercolors in a more spontaneous, freely composed style. 

  • France 2003. Paul Signac. "'The Red Buoy". 

The Post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Rousseau were greatly influenced by the Impressionists' brilliant use of colour. Cézanne's work anticipated Cubism, while that of Gauguin and van Gogh was an early stage of Expressionism. Finally, Henri Rousseau was considered both a Post-Impressionist and a Naive artist. The Post-Impressionists have their own section on this site. 

Impressionism            Neo-Impressionism

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