Roger Eliot Fry was both an art critic and a painter. It was Fry who first used the term “post-impressionism” to describe works of Cezanne, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Seurat, and others.
To understand “post-impressionism”, I think we need to first consider what “impressionism” in art was all about. Impressionist artists were moving away from academics, seeking to express the world through quick “impressions” of every day life. Impressionist paintings focused on light and color. The impressionist artists were considered radicals in the art world. They broke the rules, set up their on exhibitions, painted from diverse perspectives, and allowed brushstrokes to show through. They were soundly criticized, and the term impressionist was meant in a derogatory way.
By the late 1880s, however, artists were turning back toward some of the rules and conventions of academic art. The art of the “post-impressionists” made use of many impressionist concepts, such as vivid colors and thick layers of paint, yet brought renewed attention to symbolism and order. Structure was important. The term is rather broad, and encompasses various other trends and movements in art at the time, such as “Neo-Impressionism”, “Symbolism”, “Cloisonnism,” and “Synthetism.”
Many of the most famous works of art we know were part of the Post-Impressionist style, such as Zola’s House by Cezanne:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an excellent essay on the topic of Post-Impressionism.
Although they did not view themselves as part of a collective movement at the time, Roger Fry (1866–1934), critic and artist, broadly categorized them as ‘Post-Impressionists,’ a term that he coined in his seminal exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists installed at the Grafton Galleries in London in 1910.
You can view a the catalogue from the exhibit here.
I certainly enjoyed this “Art Quiz” question and learned a lot from it. I hope you found it interesting and informative, as well.