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117 artworks, 28 artists
Neo-Impressionism, or the new Impressionism is an art movement, which originated from Impressionism, as its name implies. Painters working in this direction sought to combine tones and colours of paints to create shimmering light. The Neo-Impressionists used the scientific principles of optics to study the location of colour spots and the effect of pure colours combinations on the human eye to enhance the visual impression of painting.
The founder of Neo-Impressionism was the French artist Georges Seurat. His Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte painting, which was presented at the Salon of the Independent, was executed in the pointillist technique: the viewer’s eye mixed the dots of pure colours, creating a general perceptive harmony. It should be noted that it took Seurat two years to complete this painting; he made 60 preliminary studies, including 15 oil works. Seurat himself called his new style chromoluminarism, using such terms as optical mixing and simultaneous contrast. In 1890, Seurat published his work on colour theory, “Aesthetics”.
In 1884, the artist Paul Signac joined Seurat. In fact, he coined the name “pointillism” for the technique of drawing with coloured dots. After the jury of the Paris Salon rejected Seurat’s painting, Bathers at Asnières, Seurat and Signac were joined by Albert Dubois-Pillet and Odilon Redon. All of them became co-founders of a new exhibition, the Salon of the Independent. In 1885, Camille Pissarro, his son Lucien, Henri-Edmond Cross and Charles Angrand joined them.
In ideological context, Neo-Impressionism was associated with the anarchists. Artists advocated the harmony of a human being in its natural environment, and free association, denying the bourgeois public tastes. The paintings by the Neo-Impressionists often depicted peasants and townspeople, their work, rest, everyday worries.
Seurat died in 1891, and Signac led the movement. In 1908, he became president of the Society of Independent Artists and promoted the principles of Neo-Impressionism until 1934. The artists continued their technical experiments, using tiny long strokes instead of points, intersecting and round strokes of different sizes, square strokes resembling a mosaic image. They experimented with contrast, shadow and tone.
Neo-Impressionism won adherents in other countries. In Belgium, it was supported by the artists Théo Van Rysselberghe, Georges Lemmen, Alfred William Finch, in Holland — Jan Toorop, Petrus Bremmer, as well as young Vincent Van Gogh and Piet Mondrian. In Italy, the artists Giovanni Segantini and Gaetano Previati became supporters of Neo-Impressionism.
Neo-Impressionism became the forerunner of the development of new artistic movements, such as Art Nouveau, Fauvism, Cubism, Orphism, and Italian Futurism. Starting a movement towards abstractionism, the new impressionism pushed many artists to modernist experiments with brushstroke, colour spots, contrast, light, form and line.
Neo-Impressionist artists: Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Albert Dubois-Pillet, Odilon Redon, Camille Pissarro, Lucien Pissarro, Henri-Edmond Cross, Charles Angrand, Théo Van Rysselberghe, Georges Lemmen, Alfred William Finch, Jan Toorop, Petrus Bremmer, Vincent Van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Giovanni Segantini, Gaetano Previati, Kurt Hermann, Erich Heckel.
Famous Neo-Impressionist paintings:
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Georges Seurat, 1886
Woman in White. Albert Dubois-Pillet, 1887
Haymaking, Éragny. Camille Pissarro, 1887
Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat. Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
The Evening Air. Henri-Edmond Cross, 1893
Luxury, Calm and Pleasure. Henri Matisse, 1904