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Post-Impressionism: Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Tanner

2 Session Daytime Lecture/Seminar

Friday, December 3, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to Friday, December 10, 2021 - 12:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0655
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Materials for this program

  1. Post-Impressionism Word List

Wheatfield with Crows (detail) by Vincent van Gogh, 1890

Post-impressionism was less a negative reaction to impressionism than a desire to improve upon it. Turning away from impressionism’s intentionally objective and spontaneous recording of what the eye sees in favor of a more personal interpretation, some post-impressionists painted slowly and methodically, using color for pictorial structure. Others used non-naturalistic colors to convey an emotional impact through their paintings. Unlike the impressionists who exhibited together in Paris, the post-impressionists did not coalesce as a group.

Art historian Janetta Rebold Benton presents an intimate look at the background, life, and art of four post-impressionist luminaries. 

December 3 

10–11 a.m.  Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)

He was a slow, meticulous painter, sometimes taking up to 20 minutes between brushstrokes. His methodical approach would lead to analytical cubism in the early 20th century. 

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

The painter abandoned a successful life in finance in Paris (as well as his wife and five children), seeking an exotic, unspoiled life in places like Martinique and Tahiti, which he captured in paintings notable for his experimental use of color.

December 10 

10–11 a.m.  Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Van Gogh’s highly charged images were executed quickly with pure brilliant colors, thick paint, and rapid brushstrokes. His paintings reflect the severe emotional swings he experienced in his short life.

11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.  Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937)

Tanner was an African American painter who moved to Paris to work. The son of a bishop, he often portrayed Christian subjects. His paintings, filled with profound spirituality, brought him international success.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.