Impressionism vs. Post-Impressionism: a Definition and Comparative Analysis

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Impressionism is a term used to describe a style of art that was made popular during the late 1800s. The term has been used in a broad sense to apply to other forms of art, but it is mainly related to painting. Impressionism was created by a group of painters in France. There are several different identifying features of impressionist paintings. One major feature that distinguished impressionist paintings from others was the use of everyday objects as the subject matter (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d.). Prior to the widespread popularity of the impressionist style, it was common for painters to use entertaining subject matter in their paintings. Heroes and famous locations were popular things to be depicted in paintings. The original purpose of art was to communicate a message for other people or future generations. As such, prehistoric art was focused on conveying important information about survival or past tribal victories. Art in later years was also focused on myths, heroes, and well-known locations. However, impressionist art was different because it made use of normal subject matter. Instead of painting a big castle with a dragon, impressionist painters would depict an everyday object like a glass of water. It is impossible to precisely identify all of the factors that may have spurred the impressionist movement. The rise in photography is thought to have influenced the impressionist style (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d.). After photography was created, people would spend more time capturing real moments that happened around them. The impressionist style is also more focused on realistic subject matter. Some other aspects of impressionism are the use of bright colors, visible brushstrokes, and an unrefined look.

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1. Post-impressionism is a different style of art that followed in the years after the impressionist movement. Post-impressionism is similar to impressionism, but has a few major differences. One major difference is that post-impressionism is more concerned with the artist’s feelings and perspective than impressionism (Post Impression Synopsis, n.d.). Some post-impressionist artworks feature depictions of objects or scenery that are not realistic. Instead, certain elements of the painting are exaggerated in a way that conveys a sense of meaning (Post Impression Synopsis, n.d.). This is markedly different from certain impressionist paintings. Some impressionist paintings were more concerned with realistic depictions of everyday objects. It is likely that post-impressionism developed as a result of several different painters being influenced by the impressionist style.

2. Post-impressionism happened in the years following impressionism. It is not always possible to identify exactly how the style developed. There are often many different things that influence the creation of a new artistic style. One factor that is said to have contributed to the post-impressionist style is the subjective styles of different artists. Impressionism introduced the concept of depicting everyday objects or scenery (Post-Impressionism artists, n.d.). It also introduced minor subjective elements that reflect the emotions of the artist. However, post-impressionism is much more about the subjective emotions of the artist than impressionism (Post-Impressionism artists, n.d.). A major aspect of post-impressionism is the unique way that an artist captures emotions through the use of color and movement. Not every artist expresses emotion in the same way. Thus, the differences in artistic representations are likely what led people to classify the post-impressionist movement as separate from the impressionist movement.

3. Haystacks by Claude Monet is a famous impressionist painting. The subject matter of the painting is an ordinary haystack. However, it is depicted using light colors and visible brushstrokes, which give it an unrefined and natural look. It was a common theme in impressionist paintings to use light colors. Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is a popular post-impressionist painting. It is similar to Haystacks in several ways. For one, both paintings feature visible brushstrokes. The paintings are not meticulously detailed, and both have an unrefined look. However, a key difference is in the choice of colors. Many impressionist paintings used light and traditional colors. In contrast, post-impressionist paintings were more creative with the use of color. Many of them feature dark or bright colors that were not widely used in other paintings of the time.

4. Both impressionism and post-impressionism had a substantial influence on the modern art world. Prior to impressionism, the subject matter of art was different than modern times. Popular locations and objects were more popular before impressionism. Impressionism and post-impressionism also changed the definition of what was considered quality art. Having visible brushstrokes and a lack of detail may have been viewed as incomplete art in years past. Post-impressionism changed the norms of what was considered an artistic expression. Modern art has many influences that can be traced back to post-impressionism. Abstract art has some elements of post-impressionism. However, post-impressionism and impressionism also feature elements of realism (like the everyday subject matter). Post-impressionism can be thought of as an early blend between realism and abstract art. It paved the way for future creative art that steps outside the bounds of what is considered normal.

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