Neo-Impressionism Characteristics works artists definition


Two French pictorial movements of the late 19th century: Pointillism and Divisionism. In this article we will provide you the Characteristics of Neo-Impressionism.

Neo-Impressionism is the name given to two French pictorial movements of the late 19th century : Pointillism and Divisionism . Neo-Impressionist artists sought to give painting a scientific approach by applying theories of optics and mathematics in the composition and realization of their works.

The name of the movement was established by the critic Félix Fénéon , theorist and promoter of the principles of Neo-Impressionism, who considered this proposal as a renewal of Impressionism .

Antecedents of Neo-Impressionism

The artists who developed the techniques of Neo-Impressionism had various influences:

  • The scientific theories on the colors of the chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul .
  • Experiences of the effects of light on the surface of objects in painting, made by impressionism artists .
  • The aesthetic theories of the mathematician Charles Henry , who in 1885 published Introduction to a Scientific Aesthetics. This researcher argued that lines and colors could generate emotions in the viewer.
  • The scientist and positivist thinking that prevailed in European society at the end of the 19th century.

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Characteristics of Neo-Impressionism

The main characteristics of Neo-Impressionism were the following:

  • The name Neo-Impressionism was given in general terms to two similar approaches: Divisionism, proposed by Seurat, which put its axis on the division of colors, and Pointillism , used by Paul Signac, which emphasized the technique of the dot painting.
  • systematic and scientific approach to painting . According to the scientific theories in force at the time, its founder was George Seurat, who maintained that by placing the primary colors side by side on the canvas, the corresponding secondary color was formed on the viewer’s retina. For example, a blue point placed next to a yellow one, forms the color green on the viewer’s retina.
  • It was considered that the artist should use only points of primary colors in order to capture the entire color palette of light on the canvas. In addition, all the dots had to be uniform in size and related to the final size of the frame. In some cases, the painting continued across the frame.
  • The artists believed that moods and emotions could be elicited through the use of certain lines and colors.
  • Neo-Impressionism left aside the construction of volumes through chiaroscuro and the use of traditional perspective to build the space of the painting. As a result, Neo-Impressionist works appear somewhat flat and somewhat artificial.
  • The duration of this movement was very short, although his conception of color had an influence on later movements, for example in Fauvism .

Neo-impressionism works

The work that is considered to be the foundation of Neo-Impressionism is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by George Seurat, presented at the last exhibition of Impressionist artists, in 1886.

Other important works are:

  • Georges Seurat, A Bath in Asnières , oil on canvas, 200 x 300 cm, National Gallery, London. 1884.
  • Paul Signac, One Sunday , oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm, Private Collection. 1888-1889.
  • Paul Signac, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 , oil on canvas, 73.5 x 92.5 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York. 1890.

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Neo-impressionism artists

Some of the most influential Neo-Impressionist artists have been:

  • George Seurat (1859-1891) : French painter who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and was the founder of Neo-Impressionism.
  • Paul Signac 1863 – 1935 ) : French painter who began with Seurat, but tried to incorporate dissonant tones in his works that would provide a different sensory experience for the viewer.
  • Maximilien Luce  (1858-1941) : French painter and illustrator, who began in Impressionism and later went on to Pointillism.
  • Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910) : French painter.

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