65 artworks, 4 artists
Cloisonnism (fr. cloison — partition) is a special style of painting technique that was invented and developed by the French artists of the Pont-Aven school, Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin (Paul Gauguin later joined them). The principles of this method suppose the rejection of smooth colour transitions and halftones. In the paintings created by cloisonnist artists, the colour fields of the image elements were separated by wide contour lines — partitions. Pure colours were designed to enhance the decorative effect of the work.

Cloisonnism suggested that artists use such techniques as raised skyline, lack of detail, rejection of a linear perspective in the picture composition. The use of wide curvy contour lines resembled the cloisonne enamel technique, as well as stained glass art, and made it possible to separate the figures from the background, highlighte individual colour zones. Artists drew ideas from Japanese masters of engraving, taking the contour and brightness of the figurative image from them and complementing it with bright backgrounds.

The name of the technique — “cloisonnism” — was first used by the French playwright and critic Édouard Dujardin. This happened in 1888, a year after the invention of the style by Bernard and Anquetin, in an article dedicated to the Brussels exhibition of the avant-garde Les XX society (Les Vingt); the audience saw the cloisonnists’ art there. “The artist draws his drawing with closed lines, superimposes various colours between them, the juxtaposition of which creates the feeling of a single predetermined colour, so that the drawing emphasizes the colour, and the colour emphasizes the drawing,” Dujardin wrote.

The technique of cloisonnism anticipated the emergence of such art movements as synthetism, symbolism, cubism. This technique was actively used by the artists who worked in other styles, for example, pointillist Paul Signac.

Famous cloisonnist paintings:
Vision after the Sermon” by Paul Gauguin, 1888
“Breton Women in the Meadow” by Émile Bernard, 1888
“The Yellow Christ” by Paul Gauguin, 1889
“The Reading Woman” by Louis Anquetin, 1890
Portrait of Felix Feneon”, Paul Signac, 1890

Famous cloisonnisst artists:
Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard, Paul Gauguin, Paul Sérusier, Paul Signac, Claude-Émile Schuffenecker, Jacob Meyer de Haan, Jan Verkade.
Cloisonnism (literally — “partition”) is a style of painting that was introduced by Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin in 1887. The style appeared as an offshoot of Post-Impressionism and gave rise to synthetism. A distinctive feature of the cloisonnist paintings was the division of the image into monophonic planes of bright colours. Canvas sections contrasted with each other, and the dark shade of the contour, the cloison, enhanced the effect. The depicted objects of the painting were represented by the individual coloured areas, which did not imply detailed drawing and made the image flat and somewhat rough. The canvas acquired the aesthetics of decor and resembled works of decorative and applied art, for example, stained-glass windows, in which the image only appeared after drawing the contour outlines.
Look at the masterpieces by cloisonnists, and you too may want to try your hand at painting, because theorists of painting recognized this painting technique as ideal for aspiring artists. The painting by Émile Bernard, the founding father of the style, gained the title of a “typical sample” of the direction: the panoramic rural landscape with peasants working in the field is made up of a dozen colours of oil paint contrasting with each other, but the viewer does not have doubts about the subject of the work or the artist’s talent. Another painting by Bernard, Asnières Railroad Bridge, 1887, represents the favourite painting genre of the cloisonnist artists — a scene from urban life. The careless one-colour filling of the canvas sections surrounded by contrasting lines takes viewer to the industrial suburb of Paris on a cloudy day with the river embankment, walking couples, and rumbling trains on the bridge.
The portrait of a Girl Reading a Newspaper by the cloisonnist Louis Anquetin has become a model of the “graceful” form of painting, with careless contour lines accentuating pastel spots of soft contrasting colours. An artist and art theorist, Anquetin admired Japanese graphics and carefully studied the Old Masters’ techniques of oil painting. The result was pastel aerial portraits of Parisian women in the cloisonnism technique, including Woman at the Champs-Élysées by Night and A Woman in Blue, 1889.
Paul Gauguin became the author of picturesque masterpieces and the most expensive canvases of the style. The artist’s journey to Tahiti gave his descendants dozens of cloisonnist paintings. “When Will You Marry?” 1892, the most expensive work of art in history, was auctioned for $ 300 million. Two Tahitian women are drawn on the canvas in a simplified and schematic manner. The young subject in the foreground is frozen in anticipation of “something” and personifies the girl in search of a husband. Her friend in a European dress with a strict, wary, detailed face, as though admonishes the unsophisticated young girl from the rash act. Minimum volume, composition, shades, details and... the picture has firmly entered the list of the best paintings by the artist. In Gauguin’s later works, including the famous Sunflowers, you can see the influence of the cloisonnist style and trace the appearance of synthetism in the paintings of the great Frenchman.
Cloisonnist paintings: Vision after Sermon 1888, Woman with a Flower 1891, I raro te oviri (I) (Under the Pandanus I) 1891, Baby (Nativity of Tahitian Christ) 1896, Motherhood 1899 by Paul Gauguin; Girl Reading a Newspaper 1890, Woman in a Veil 1891 by Louis Anquetin; Breton Women in the Meadow 1888, Buckwheat Harvesters by Émile Bernard.
Artists: Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard, Paul Gauguin, Félix Vallotton, Paul Sérusier, Jan Verkade.