Modern Art Lessons – Post-Impressionism


The Post-Impressionists emerged in the 1880s and lasted primarily throughout the 1910s.  Can rebels rebel from the rebels?  Of course!  They do all the time and such was the case with the Post-Impressionists.

"Moulin Rouge: La Goulue" - 1891Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“Moulin Rouge: La Goulue” – 1891
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

The Post-Impressionists reacted against the “en plein air” naturalism of Impressionism, and wanted to explore the use of abstract form and pattern – relying less on nature and more on the personal experiences of the self.   A style emerged from this unofficial group of painters showcasing more saturated, simple colors and more abstract forms.

The popularity of the camera was a participating factor in the push towards abstract art.  In 1900 Kodak created the Brownie, an affordable box camera that could be easily operated. Now many people could own a camera and quickly create accurate portraits with a snapshot, but a painter had the infinity of imagination to represent personal emotions.

See the works of: Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh

Paul Cezanne - Study of Trees, 1904

Paul Cézanne – Study of Trees, 1904

Looking at this painting, I definitely see a Modern Quilt.   The colors are more isolated from each other, there is space to breathe in the composition, and in a sense it appears to be just a glimpse of what we can imagine is a never-ending vision.   This painting goes beyond the canvas borders.

Is there a sense within the Modern Quilting community that, when looking at the precision of traditional quilts, there‘s a bit of “I can’t do that” or maybe “I could, but I don’t want to!”  That’s what comes to mind when I think of the inundation of portrait photography versus abstract art.  Maybe there’s a part of “I can’t compete, so why play” that leads to abandoning elaborately pieced, meticulously joined traditional quilts in favor or pursuing the loose nature of improvisational piecing, or large-scale piecing.  Moreover, I believe there’s a grander sense of “that’s been done – let’s try something new!”

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Filed under Inspiration

3 responses to “Modern Art Lessons – Post-Impressionism

  1. I don’t think it is “I can’t do that”. There are plenty of traditional quilts that are easy to piece if that is the issue. For me, it is about space and color and simplicity of form.

    • Certainly not for the experienced quilter. For a beginner, perhaps there is something more approachable about taking on a “liberated” block rather than a precise, repeated quilt square design.

  2. perfect inspiration for a modern quilt

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