The Fall and Rise of Sargent  (Frontpage)   (What's New
The reasons for the demise of Sargent's popularity and his art's rebirth
(Page 1 of 4)
Monet's Grainstacks
Monet:  Grainstacks, 1891 
Monet: Grainstacks, 1891 
Monet: Grainstacks, 1891 
Monet: Grainstacks, snow, 1891, Met. photo by C. Cernuschi
Monet: Grainstacks, snow, 1891, Met photo by C. Cernuschi
Monet: La meule 

Paul Cézanne 
French Post-Impressionist Painter, 1839-1906

Still Life with Watermelon and Pomegranates  
Philadelphia Museum of Art   Philadelphia, PA 
Watercolor and pencil on paper 

Vincent van Gogh 
Post-Impressionist Painter 

The Starry Night 
van Gog Gallery 
The Museum of Modern Art  
New York, NY 
Oil on canvas
  Paul Gaugin 
French Post-Impressionist 

Woman Holding 
a Fruit 
Carol L. Gerten 
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg 
Oil on canvas
Roger Fry  
and the  

In November of 1910 Roger Fry, art historian and critic, put together a show of impressionist painters that had remained rather obscure from the public eye. He felt that contemporary art had grown stale and wanted to show artists that had a vibrancy he wanted to draw attention to. It was, he felt, a new impression, and he along with the Desmond McCarthy (Secretary to the exhibition committee) termed a new word: Post-Impressionism. 

The show was a shock to the art world. Gaugin, Cézanne, and Van Gogh were the three main artists featured. All had their roots in Impressionism, but all had felt that the emotion of art had been neglected in the search for the "truth" of impression of light on an object.  

Roger Fry put it this way in the introduction to the catalogue of the show: 

[These artists] say in effect to the Impressionists: "You have explored nature in every direction, and all honour to you; but your methods and principles have hindered artists from exploring and expressing that emotional significance which lies in things, and is the most important subject matter in art . . . (The Impressionists and their Legacy, P.645, Barnes & Noble, 1995)
Fry was saying, to those who would listen, just how many Grainstacks can Monet paint? Or in Sargent's case that year -- just how many studies in Light before we can move on to the emotional significance of the art? 

With the exception of Cézanne, both Gaugin, and Van Gogh were mostly unrecognized when they were doing their work, the vanguard of art, as Fry saw it in 1910, wanted something solid and enduring that these three had already achieved.  
Cézanne painted his still lifes to show the relationship between color and form and if perspective was to suffer -- so be it.  

Van Gogh had wanted to paint emotional turmoil he felt and if distortion helped -- he used it.  
Gaugin wanted to show the simplicity of the Tahitian culture. He simplified his lines and emphasized his colors to express the exotic, and if this came at the expense of true representation -- no problem. 
All three artist were working (though they themselves didn't declare it) towards an abstraction. Cezanne's ideas were blossoming under Cubism which originated from France; Van Gogh's method was leading to Expressionism which found its fertile soil in Germany; and Gauguin's vision spread to many forms of Primitivism. 

Post-Impressionist | Public Reaction 
Critical Turn | Rehabilitation

By Natasha Wallace 
Copyright 2000, All rights reserved 

  • Notes:

    By:  Natasha Wallace
    Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
    Created 4/1/2000



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