VAN GOGH is a POST-Impressionism painter, NOT an Expressionism Painter

Van Gogh self portrait in the POST-IMPRESSIONIST style

So, dear readers, I am getting ready for an episode of Face Off I have been excited to watch, right? The theme is art movements so I am thinking that I will love this, right? Well I am half way through the episode and I am already angered and wound up in a tizzy.

First, one girl thinks Constructivism is a movement based on construction. And another contestant is creating a design for Constructivism using a construction worker!

But what really ticks me off is that no one is correcting the idiot who keeps saying that he chose the Expressionism theme because Van Gogh is his idol or something.

hello— WHAT?

Van Gogh is POST-Impressionism, NOT Expressionism. And yes there is a difference.

Expressionist paintings are characterized by distortion and exaggeration in order to create an emotional effect. The paintings are full of vivid imagery and emotion and are often described as showing a touch of the dark side of human nature. Other characteristics of the expressionist style are intense color, disjointed spaces, and agitated brushstrokes that portray subjective reality rather than realism. Artists who paint in this style might incorporate fantasy and violence in their subject matter in order to show the extremes of emotion, often they express their own thoughts and opinions.

The Expressionist movement existed in both Germany and France from 1905 to 1925. Some of the artists closely associated with the movement are Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Paul Klee (1879-1940), August Macke (1887-1914), Franz Marc (1880-1916), Henri Matisse (1869-1964), and Edvard Munch (1863-1944). NOT Van Gogh.

Impressionism is generally considered to be a spontaneous method of painting in which an artist attempts to capture the impression of light in a scene. The Impressionists broke from the traditional painting methods of their day by applying paint in small touches of pure color, rather than mix the paint before applying it, and using broad strokes and sometimes a palette knife instead of a brush. This method allowed the artists to emphasize the impression of their subject matter rather than paint the object in a realistic manner, enabling the artist to paint an image in the way that someone might see it if they only caught a quick glimpse of the subject. Most impressionist paintings are outdoor scenes painted in vibrant colors without an emphasis on detail and emotion.

The Impressionist movement, which originated in France, lasted from 1867 to 1886. Among the artists most closely associated with the movement are Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Camille Pissaro (1830-1903), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). NOT Van Gogh.

Post-Impressionism came a little later ( the term was invented by Roger Fry in 1910) and was started by artists responding to Impressionism by exploring pointillism methods, because they felt all of the potential of Impressionism was exhausted. Post-Impressionists pushed the ideas of the Impressionists into new directions, but Post-Impressionists were an eclectic bunch of individuals, so there were no broad, unifying characteristics. Each artist took an aspect of Impressionism and exaggerated it. Artists of Post-Impressionsim include Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, George Seurat, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Othon Friesz, plus the sculptor Aristide Maillol and VINCENT VAN GOGH!

So now hopefully you see that there is a difference between these three art movements.

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7 thoughts on “VAN GOGH is a POST-Impressionism painter, NOT an Expressionism Painter

  1. Pingback: Art Term: Pointillism | Art for a Hungry ShareBear
  2. I totally agree with you. I saw that episode too and was completely enraged with the fact that the artists didn’t research their topics beforehand. They just went off of what they thought was true. If that person had really seen Van Gogh as their idol, then they would have known exactly the type of painter he is.

  3. You’re saying van gogh didn’t use use distortion and exaggeration to create an emotional effect? You’re saying he didn’t use intense colour or agitated brush strokes?

    • No not at all! Post-Impressionism is generally considered to be born from artists responding to Impressionism mostly via pointillism in the early 1900s. What I said was, “Post-Impressionists pushed the ideas of the Impressionists into new directions, but Post-Impressionists were an eclectic bunch of individuals, so there were no broad, unifying characteristics. Each artist took an aspect of Impressionism and exaggerated it.”

      There are no real unifying characteristics in style for Impressionism per-say, but knowing the order they developed helps with the confusion.

      • I am so glad to have found your blog and absolutely agree with you on Van Gogh and post Impressionism. Just look at his paintings! I did not realized that you are in Huntville, AL. We are in Atlanta but we visit Birmingham, AL a bit. Our boys love yoyr space center so we did visit Huntvilke a couple times. Thank you so much for sharing your art knowledge. I would love to hear about ” fauvism” from you.
        Sincerely,
        Nat ( microbiologist and a mom of 2 boys)

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