Neo-Impressionism Art Movement: History, Characteristics, Artwork

Neo-Impressionism began during the late 19th century and rejected the spontaneity of impressionism in favor of creating paintings using thousands of tiny dots. Neo impressionism was influenced by the scientific examination of color theory and optical effects, resulting in the creation of paintings that were more harmonious and radiant. Neo-Impressionism is characterized by the use of tiny dots of pure color, precise and distinct outlines around the shapes, and surfaces that produce light.

During the last Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1886, art critic Félix Fénéon introduced the term “Neo-Impressionism” to describe the painting methods used by artists Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and Camille Pissarro. These Neo-Impressionists, who disagreed with the spontaneous, gestural quality of Impressionism, utilized the study of optics and color theory to create carefully composed paintings that capitalized on the physiological effects of vision.They were influenced by the scientific research by Michel Eugené Chevreul and the publishing of Charles Henry’s “Introducing a Scientific Aesthetics” in 1885, which advocated for an art that is grounded on scientific principles. Other French artists who later joined them included: Théo van Rysselberghe, Henry Edmond Cross, George Lemmen, Maximilen Luce, Jan Toorop , Henri Matisse, and Albert Dubois-Pillet. 

Neo impressionists artists painted directly onto canvas, using dots of color that would “optically mix” when the viewer backed away from the artwork, as instead of mixing paints on a palette. The process of creating images by applying small units of pigment is referred to as divisionism, and the dotted technique developed by Seurat is now recognized as Pointillism.

The Neo-Impressionists choose to paint in the studio rather than outside, contrary to the Impressionists. The artistic style emphasizes modern-day life and scenery, and is carefully structured rather than impulsive in both technique and purpose.

Neo-impressionism continued to have a significant impact even after Seurat’s death in 1891. It influenced the growth of art movements such as Italian Futurism, Art Nouveau, Fauvism, Cubism, Die Brücke, Orphism, and the trend toward abstraction. It extracted formal features, universal archetypes, color sensations, and lines from the art world, which served as the starting grounds for numerous modernist experimentation. Although other artists adopted the approach and then transitioned to different artistic forms, Signac, one of the pioneering Neo-Impressionists, persisted in painting in this style until his demise in 1935.

History of Neo-Impressionism

Beginnings of Neo-Impressionism

In the mid-1880s, a group of artists, including Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh, who would later be known as Post-Impressionists, felt that Impressionism’s focus on light was too limited. They started exploring new methods of using line, color, and form. After a year of study at the École des Beaux-Arts, Seurat declared in 1879 that he wished “to find something new, my own way of painting.” He highly appreciated the intensity of color in painting and documented the utilization of color by the artist Eugène Delacroix. He initiated his studies of color theory and the science of optics, which ultimately led him to create a distinct artistic style known as Chromoluminarism.

George Seurat’s adoption of the ideas of “optical mixture” and “simultaneous contrast,” which he learned about through his readings, formed the basis of Chromoluminarism, a style that later became  Neo-Impressionism. Michel-Eugène Chevreul, during his employment at the Gobelins dye factory in Paris, was responsible for addressing consumer grievances over the yarn’s color quality. In attempting to solve the problem, he came across the idea of “simultaneous contrast,” or the impact of one yarn’s color on another’s perception of color. In 1839, Chevreul authored The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors. Ogden Rood’s Modern Chromatics explored the phenomenon of color mixing in the viewer’s eye, while David Sutter’s Phenomena of Vision (1880) developed principles defining the relationship between art and science. Neo-Impressionism used the technique of applying dots or brushstrokes of complementary hues on the canvas to generate vibrant colors and a shimmering look. Neo-Impressionist painters did not mix pigments using a palette; instead, they relied on the viewer’s eye to “blend” the colors that were visible on the canvas.

Even though several of these theories were regarded cutting edge at the time, they are now merely considered to be quasi-scientific. Seurat believed that he had uncovered the scientific principles of painting, which need strict discipline and careful implementation in to achieve a vibrant and vivid color palette. In his 1884 painting “Bathers at Asnières,” the artist utilized his understanding of color theory and introduced a new technique called balayé. This technique involved applying matte colors with criss-crossing strokes. The painting is a large-scale depiction of several laborers bathing in the river on a hot summer day.

Afterwards, Georges Seurat’s masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884) was created by conducting thorough preliminary investigations and sketches. The artwork portrayed the bourgeoisie in the park by utilizing Seurat’s Pointillist technique, which consisted of applying tiny dabs of complementary colors adjacent to one another.

In 1890, Seurat released Esthetique, his seminal publication on the scientific color theory of Neo-Impressionism.

Growth and development of Neo impressionism

Georges Seurat, who lived a tragically short life from 1859 to 1891, was the foremost advocate and most accomplished practitioner of Pointillism. In the early 1880s, Seurat extensively examined treatises on color theory written by French chemists Eugene Chevreul and Charles Henry. As a result, he devised a novel pictorial method known as “separation of color” or “Divisionism,” which enhanced the intensity and vibrancy of colors in his artwork. The Neo-Impressionists held the belief that by combining the vivid colors of the rainbow, they might evoke an emotional reaction in their audience and inspire them to pursue a society characterized by similar harmony.

Seurat met Paul Signac (1863–1935) during the inaugural Salon des indépendants in 1884, an open art exhibition organized as an alternative to the Official Paris Salon. Signac went on to become the group’s major intellect and leader following Seurat’s death in 1891. He later met many other Impressionist artists, such as Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Albert Dubois-Pillet (1846-1890), Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910), and Charles Angrand (1856-1926), who collectively established the first Neo-Impressionist group.

In 1886, two years after its creation, Seurat’s masterpiece “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” received increased attention and followers at both the final Impressionist Exhibition and the Salon des indépendants. Among those who were drawn to Seurat’s work were Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), Leo Gausson (1860-1944), and Louis Hayet (1864-1940). French Neo-impressionists exhibited “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” in the Salon des Vingt in Brussels the next February, drawing the attention of Belgian artists such as Theo Van Rysselberghe, Henry Van de Velde, and others who were becoming interested in the emerging trend led by Seurat.

Neo-Impressionism later extended its influence to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy following its initial reception in Belgium. Divisionism was primarily centered in Northern Italy, and focused on landscape,The Italian Divisionism movement, which boasted prominent Italian artists such as Vittore Grubicy De Dragon,  Angelo Morbelli, Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Emilio Longoni, Plinio Nomellini, Gaetano Previati, and Giovanni Sottocornola, was particularly influential. Carlo Carra, born in 1881 and died in 1966, was a student at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1900s. He was also attracted to Neo-Impressionist painting.

Many of these painters looked for fresh approaches to bringing interest to the surface of their paintings because they were disappointed with Claude Monet’s Impressionism and its commitment to replicating nature. The impressionist style started in France in the 1870s and was distinguished by the use of short, sharp brushstrokes to precisely depict the transient light and mood in a subject, usually one that is outside. The Impressionists aimed to depict a fleeting moments as experienced by the observer, rather than a  precise replication of the scene.

The End of Neo Impressionism

The Neo-Impressionist Movement took place between 1884 and 1935. That year saw the death of Paul Signac, a prominent figure in the movement and an ardent follower of Seurat’s work.


Divisionism, also known as Chromo-luminarism, was the distinctive style of painting in the Neo-Impressionist movement. It involved the deliberate separation of opposing or complementary colors into separate patches. These patches interacted visually to provide the effects of shadow and depth. Divisionists thought they were reaching the maximum luminosity that could be achieved scientifically by making the observer mix the colors optically rather than mixing pigments. They also believed that it symbolized philosophical harmony, as unexpected colors blend together in equal measure to create a unified vision. Georges Seurat  drew inspiration from the scientific theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood, Charles Blanc, and other scholars. Divisionism emerged in parallel with Pointillism, a technique characterized by the precise application of small dots of paint. Divisionism places less emphasis on the separation of colors compared to Pointillism.

Divisionism developed in the 19th century as painters became aware of scientific theories of vision that prompted them to move away from the principles of Impressionism. Most significantly, color palettes evolved as scientists learned more about how light vibrates and how that affects retinas. Neo-Impressionists adopted the practice of juxtaposing complementary colors in order to generate depth and shadows, rather than use a variety of colors. Paul Signac first used the term “divisionism” to describe this splitting of the canvas into separate portions of complementary and opposing colors.

The Divisionist technique employed a method wherein they strategically applied discrete dots of color adjacent to one other on the canvas, as opposed to blending the colors on the palette. This resulted in a more vivid and energetic impact, but also necessitated a greater degree of expertise and accuracy.

Characteristics of Neo-Impressionism Art

The characteristics of Neo impressionism include: Use of precise, scientific brushwork and optical theories ; Interest in depicting modern, urban life and landscapes; use of color and light to create a vibrant, dynamic visual effect; and Divisionism.

Use of precise, scientific brushwork and optical theories

The Neo-Impressionists opt for scientific methods in order to uncover their painting approach of merging pure colors and tones to produce radiant and luminous artworks. Georges Seurat, a prominent figure in the establishment of Neo-Impressionism, dedicated his research to color and optical theory. Their objective was to introduce a more scientific and analytical viewpoint in portraying natural landscapes, which differed from the Impressionists’ spontaneous and subjective approach.

Interest in depicting modern, urban life and landscapes

The Neo-Impressionists aimed to establish intimate associations with the forms, colors, and lines depicted in their paintings, which reflected the process of urbanization throughout the Industrial Revolution. Their works frequently feature leisure activities, coastal landscapes, and urban settings, which are indicative of the social and cultural environment of the late 19th century.

Most Neo-Impressionists were adherents of anarchism.  According to Roslak, R. S. in The Art Bulletin (1991), Artists and anarchists alike were intent on creating, and justifying as “natural,” conditions of aesthetic and social harmony using the laws and vocabulary of late nineteenth-century French chemistry [1].

Their impressionist art depictions of the common people and working class brought attention to the social unrest that followed the emergence of industrial capitalism, and their artistic pursuit of harmony reflected their utopian outlook. Their capacity to overthrow capitalist rules and norms that restricted their independence was facilitated by the freedom they pursued in scientific research.

Emphasis on the use of color and light to create a vibrant, dynamic visual effect

The artists desired to enhance the visual sensation of the illustration by methodically placing contrasting colors such as black, green grass, white, and grey, next to each other. They were influenced by scientific theories of color and perception, such as those of Michel Eugène Chevreul and Ogden Rood.

The Neo-impressionists were specifically intrigued by Chevreul’s color wheel and his theories on complementary colors. Chevreul argued that two colors positioned diametrically opposite each other on the color wheel were sufficiently dissimilar to provide a striking visual impact when juxtaposed.

Divisionism and Pointillism

The two principles closely associated with Neo-Impressionism are nearly synonymous. Divisionism is a color theory that prioritizes the application of tiny bits of pure color on the canvas separately, allowing the colors to be optically mixed by the viewer’s eye. An artist who uses little brushstrokes to divide or separate colors is referred to as a divisionist. Pointillism employed the same optical mixture principle as Impressionism, but it utilized tiny individual “points,” or dots, of pigment.

Neo-Impressionism Artists

Notable Neo-impressionist painters include George Seurat, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac and Piet Mondrian.  See below for more information on each:

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat

Georges Pierre Seurat was a French artist who belonged to the post-Impressionist movement. He developed the artistic methods referred to as chromoluminarism and pointillism, and employed conté crayon to create images on rough surface.

In “Five Philosophical Faces of the Modern Avant-garde Arts”, an article in the proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education (ICADCE 2019), it is stated that the inventions of Georges Seurat were based on new quasi-scientific theories concerning color and expression. Authors Zhengbo Zhang and Qiuping Li say the elegant beauty of Seurat’s creations can be attributed to the impact of other sources like his belief that exceptional modern and contemporary art would depict present-day existence in a manner similar to traditional art, although employing technologically-informed methods. [2]

Seurat possessed a unique artistic personality that seamlessly blended seemingly contradictory traits: a heightened and refined sensitivity, alongside a passionate inclination towards logical abstraction and a nearly mathematical accuracy of thought. The artwork A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886) had a significant impact on contemporary art by introducing Neo-Impressionism and is considered a prominent example of late 19th-century painting.

Later on, Seurat’s interest in Gothic art and popular posters intensified, and his work was influenced by these, becoming some of the earliest modern art to employ such unusual sources of expression. His rapid success thrust him to the forefront of the Parisian avant-garde. Vincent van Gogh expressed his admiration for Seurat’s broad palette of colors, describing them as a “fresh revelation of color” during a visit to Seurat’s studio. Seurat’s groundbreaking techniques had a significant impact on the Italian Futurists, and his paintings, such as Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte (1884), have gained widespread popularity and are now considered iconic.

Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro


  • Artist Name: Camille Pissarro
  • Born: 10 July 1830 Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, Danish West Indies
  • Died: 13 November 1903 (aged 73) Paris, France
  • Famous artworks:

Camille Pissarro, a Danish-French artist, was born on the island of St Thomas, which is currently part of the US Virgin Islands but was once known as the Danish West Indies. Pissarro was known for his contributions to the Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist movements. Pissarro was influenced by the works of renowned artists such as Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. At the age of 54, he pursued the Neo-Impressionist style and collaborated with Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

Camille Pissarro is the sole painter to have participated in all eight Impressionist exhibitions that were conducted between 1874 and 1886. While the Impressionists are renowned for their portrayal of urban streets and rural leisure, Pissarro adorned his canvases with images of the mundane existence of French peasants. His most notable work combines his profound interest in rural themes with the scientific examination of nature in various lighting and atmospheric circumstances, influenced by his extensive exploration of French Realism. Similar to his fellow Impressionist artists, his works are detailed examinations of the impact of light on the colors seen in nature. Nevertheless, he consistently sought out young artists as collaborators, and his expression of scientific color theory in his latter work would be crucial for the following generation of avant-garde painters.

Paul Signac

Paul Signac

  • Artist Name: Paul Signac
  • Born: 11 November 1863 Paris, France
  • Died: 15 August 1935 (aged 71), Paris, France
  • Art Movements: , Neo-impressionismPost-Impressionism, Pointillism, Divisionism
  • Famous Artworks:

Paul Signac greatly influenced by current ideas on optics and color, as well as the work of the Impressionists. During his youth in the bohemian area of Montmartre in Paris, the Impressionists were at the forefront of artistic innovation.

In 1884, he encountered Claude Monet and Georges Seurat. With his explanation of Neo-Impressionism and the Divisionist technique, he became Seurat’s devoted friend, successor, and supporter after being impressed by the artist’s methodical working techniques and theory of colors. Influenced by Seurat, he abandoned the brief brushstrokes characteristic of Impressionism and instead embarked on an exploration of precisely paired tiny dots of pure color. These dots were supposed to merge and meld not on the canvas itself, but within the observer’s eye, thereby constituting the defining characteristic of Pointillism. Signac conducted experiments using different artistic mediums. In addition to creating oil paintings and watercolors, the artist also produced etchings, lithographs, and numerous pen-and-ink sketches consisting of intricate, painstakingly applied dots.

Paul Signac, Seurat, and their fellow Neo-Impressionists initiated a process in Modernism that involved the deconstruction of the fundamental elements of a painting, thereby dissociating color from the objects it represented. This was a significant step toward the further abstraction that would be achieved by successive artists.
Signac’s impact on Henri Matisse and André Derain, as part of the Neo-Impressionist movement, had a crucial role in the development of Fauvism. Signac himself did not appreciate the style during its initial emergence.

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian

  • Artist Name: Piet Mondrian
  • Born: 7 March 1872 Amersfoort, Netherlands
  • Died: 1 February 1944 (aged 71) New York City, U.S.

Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter and art theoretician, is widely considered one of the most eminent artists of the 20th century. He gained recognition as a pioneer in 20th-century abstract art due to his shift from representational painting to a progressively abstract approach. At last, he reached a point where his artistic expression was confined to fundamental geometric elements.

Between 1909 and 1910, Mondrian studied Georges Seurat’s scientific approach and color theory, which focused on the utilization of contrasting basic colors.The majority of his artistic output during this time is characterized by a realistic or Impressionistic style, primarily focusing on landscapes. The artist’s depictions of windmills, farms, and rivers of his homeland are presented in a pastoral fashion. Initially, he followed the Dutch Impressionist style of the Hague School, but later explored many styles and techniques in his quest for a unique artistic expression. These paintings are figurative and depict the impact of other creative styles on Mondrian, such as pointillism and the vibrant colors of Fauvism.

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

  • Artist Name: Henri Matisse
  • Born: 31 December 1869 Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France
  • Died: 3 November 1954 (aged 84) Nice, France

Henri Matisse gained recognition for his skillful utilization of color and his innovative and elegant drawing technique. He possessed skills in draftsmanship, printmaking, and sculpture, but his main area of recognition was in his proficiency as a painter. Matisse is widely recognized, alongside Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who played a key role in shaping the groundbreaking advancements in the visual arts during the early years of the twentieth century.

Henri Matisse rose to fame as a Post-Impressionist artist and gained recognition as the foremost figure of the French Fauvism movement. Despite his interest in cubism, he rejected it in favor of using color as the building block for paintings that were emotive, ornamental, and frequently massive. Throughout his career, Henri Matisse always favored still life and the nude as topics. He drew significant inspiration from North Africa, and towards the end of his life, he made a noteworthy contribution to the art of collage by creating a series of works that incorporated cut-out forms of color.

Neo-Impressionism Artwork

The most famous Neo impressionism paintings discussed include; Devotion, The Eiffel Tower, Snow, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, Apple-picking, and The Models.


Devotion, by Piet Mondriaan

  • Artwork Name: Devotion
  • Artist: Piet Mondrian
  • Date: 1908
  • Location created: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Current Location: Gemeentemuseum den Haag, Hague, Netherlands

“Devotion” by Piet Mondrian portrays a young girl’s side profile with a high level of sensitivity and skillful brushwork, resulting in a highly emotional depiction. The subject’s upward glance implies a moment of deep reflection or spiritual connection. The painting utilizes a combination of fiery oranges and reds for the girl’s hair, and colder blues and lilac tones for the rest of her body. This enhances the ethereal characteristics of the artwork. The background is adorned with harmonic swirls and organic patterns, maybe representing an abstracted depiction of divine presence or the fluid essence of devotion. It is possible to see Mondrian’s investigation of color harmonies and the expressive possibilities of simpler forms—aspects that would subsequently have a significant impact on his development towards abstraction.

The Eiffel Tower

  • Artwork Name: The Eiffel Tower
  • Artist: Georges Seurat
  • Date: 1889
  • Medium: Oil on Wood
  • Current Location: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, US

The Eiffel Tower is depicted as the central focus of a cityscape picture, towering over the composition and set against a radiant sky. The work adheres faithfully to the Neo-Impressionist technique, employing an array of small brushstrokes that create the illusion of a glistening surface when observed from afar. The palette primarily showcases a variety of blues, complemented by small amounts of warmer colors that evoke the dynamic relationship between light and structure. Seurat depicts a simple urban landscape at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, using bold strokes of color to symbolize buildings and the horizon. Seurat’s artistic technique of dividing color and light amid the bustling city of Paris captures a moment of tranquility. This creates a sense of atmospheric depth and brightness, which is characteristic of Seurat’s artistic style.

Snow, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris

“Snow, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris” by Paul Signac is an Oil on Canvas painting that depicts a scenic scene of the Boulevard de Clichy covered in a layer of snow. The viewer’s gaze is drawn further into the scene by the visually rhythmic, softly curved tram lines, which lead to the vanishing point, which is surrounded by rows of leafless trees and historic buildings. The canvas is primarily filled with various shades of white and grey, which are contrasted by the subtle presence of muted yellows and oranges. This suggests the existence of sunlight, even if the sky appears to be cloudy. The sight of pedestrians and the outline of a tram in the background conjure up the everyday existence of Parisians in the midst of the cold weather. The precise and careful use of paint, which is a defining feature of the Neo-Impressionist approach, showcases a pattern of distinct color brushstrokes that come together to create a balanced and lively arrangement, successfully depicting the true nature of a winter day in late 19th-century Paris.


“Apple-Picking” by Camille Pissarro is an Oil on canvas painting that illustrates the tranquil, peaceful environment of rural labor, with emphasis on apple harvesting. The image depicts three individuals actively involved in the act of harvesting apples in a vibrant setting abundant with green greenery and fully ripe red apples. The central figure is standing in an erect position, extending her arms towards the upper branches of a thin tree, with her focus directed on the fruit above. Adjacent to the right, another person is slumped over, focusing intently on gathering apples into a brimming basket, indicating the plentiful yield of the harvest. To the left, a person is sitting on the ground, holding an apple in her hand. She is taking a brief pause, possibly to enjoy the taste of the fruit or to rest after some physical activity.

Camille Pissarro skillfully employs dappled light and color variations to effectively depict the liveliness and fleeting nature of outdoor light, a defining feature of the Neo-Impressionist movement. The landscape exudes peace, and the painter’s technique imparts a textured, almost tangible feel to the artwork, encouraging the viewer to emotionally connect with the depicted moment. The artwork’s balanced arrangement and the contemplative nature of the portrayed figures recall the eternal and all-encompassing pattern of nature and human engagement with it.

The Models

  • Artwork Name: The Models
  • Artist: Georges Seurat
  • Date: 1887 – 1888
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Current Location: Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, US

“The Models” by Georges Suerat portrays three nude models positioned in different stances inside an artist’s studio. One figure is in an upright position, directly facing the viewer, while the second model is sat on the floor, looking away, and the third model sits on a platform, slightly turning towards the viewer. Each of them is surrounded by a variety of vibrant studio gear, such as curtains, clothes, and artist’s materials, creating an vivid scenario.

The application of paint in The Models is evident through the use of small, clearly defined dots of color. This technique is called Pointillism and is a defining aspect of Seurat’s innovative Neo-Impressionist style. Seurat employs the method of optical color mixing in this technique, wherein different colors positioned in close proximity merge in the observer’s sight, resulting in a dazzling visual impact. Seurat’s artwork demonstrates his investigation of scientific methodologies in painting, aiming to organize the disorder of perception and depict the fleeting visual encounter with exceptional accuracy and disciplined technique. This is evident via his arrangement, lighting, and color choices.

Neo-Impressionism vs. Impressionism

Impressionism was an expansive and pervasive school that eventually extended over most of the Western world, while Neo-Impressionism, on the other hand, was a small circle of French artists that emerged at a later date, and are occasionally referred to as Pointillists or Divisionists due to their use of scattered dots, points, or little marks.

Impressionism preceded Neo-Impressionism. Impressionism originated in Paris around 1860, while Neo-Impressionism was established in 1886.

The word Neo-Impressionism was used by the French art critic Félix Fénéon to describe George Seurat’s art, which he observed as a departure from traditional Impressionist concepts. Feneon observed that Seurat employed far smaller brushstrokes compared to the Impressionists, resulting in the creation of scattered bursts of color. Feneon noted that Seurat adopted a more logical and scientific method of utilizing color, motivated by the innovative color theorist Eugene Chevreul. Seurat intentionally positioned tiny dots of contrasting colors, such as orange and blue, or purple and yellow, adjacent to each other, allowing them to merge visually.

The Impressionists’ commitment to painting landscapes while outside “en plein air” was a defining characteristic of their work. The artists employed this method to instantly portray the fleeting qualities of nature, light, and weather using loose brushstrokes and soft, radiant colors.  The Neo-Impressionists depicted comparable themes to the Impressionists, such as landscapes or individuals engaged in recreational activities. However, the majority of Neo-impressionist’s final paintings were created in the studio, as they were carefully painted with great attention to detail.

Neo Impressionism vs. Post Impressionism

Post-Impressionism refers to the artistic style of a group of artists in the late 19th century who deliberately rejected the emphasis on realistic representation of light and color that characterized Impressionism. Post-Impressionism aimed to accentuate individual expression, organization, and shape in their artwork. Notable figures of Post-Impressionism include Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Georges Seurat, among other artists.

Neo-Impressionism is a distinct style of Post-Impressionism that is primarily linked to Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. The Neo-Impressionists pioneered a painting method called Pointillism or Divisionism, wherein they carefully painted tiny dots of color in specific patterns to create an organized image. The objective of this technique was to provide a perception of luminosity and liveliness in the painting

What Art Movements Were Influenced by Neo-Impressionism?

Despite Seurat’s demise in 1891, Neo-Impressionism had a significant impact on various artists and the evolution of art styles such as Art Nouveau, Fauvism, Cubism, Die Brücke, Orphism, Italian Futurism, and the push towards abstraction. Neo impressionism drew upon formal features, universal archetypes, color sensations, and lines from the world, which served as the basis for numerous modernist experiments. Although other artists adopted the approach and then transitioned to different artistic forms, Signac, who was among the initial Neo-Impressionists, persisted in painting in this style until his death in 1935.

The techniques and philosophies of Neo-Impressionism have also exerted a lasting influence on Pop Art. Roy Lichtenstein, an American Pop artist, included stencil dot patterns in his artworks such as Drowning Girl (1963). These patterns not only evoke the printing technique used in newspapers and magazines, but also resemble the dots of color found in Neo-Impressionist paintings.

Chuck Close and John Roy both combined the technique of Pointillism with the style of Photorealism. Close employed a diverse range of ‘points,’ ranging from pixels to cells, in his artistic creation by utilizing a grid pattern. Ger van Elk, a Dutch artist, has produced a series of artworks known as flatscreens. These are moving pictures inspired by the paintings of Seurat, Signac, and Cross. Two of his notable pieces, “Snow over Seurat” and “Seurat’s La Grève de Bas-Butin à Honfleur,” were exhibited together in Amsterdam in 2004.

How did Neo-Impressionism Influence Popular Culture?

Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte is frequently featured in popular culture. Steven Sondheim’s 1984 Broadway musical, Sunday Afternoon in the Park with George, is an adaptation of the picture that won the Pulitzer Prize and two Tony awards. The art has been featured in films such as Barbarella (1968) and notably in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). Cartoons such as Looney Tunes, Sponge Bob, and The Simpsons, as well as children’s books and series like Babar the Elephant and Sesame Street, have all created parodies of it. The image has been replicated on numerous magazine covers.


1. Roslak, R. S. (1991). The politics of aesthetic harmony: Neo-impressionism, science, and anarchism. The Art Bulletin, 73(3), 381-390.

2. Zhang, Z., & Li, Q. (2019, August). Five Philosophical Faces of the Modern Avant-garde Arts. In 5th International Conference on Arts, Design and Contemporary Education (ICADCE 2019) (pp. 392-396). Atlantis Press.

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Piet Mondrian Evening landscape 1903
Piet Mondrian On the Lappenbrink 1899 gouache
Piet Mondrian Passionflower 1908 ink,watercolor,paper
Piet Mondrian PICTURE NO. III 1938 oil,canvas
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Piet Mondrian Polder Landscape with a Train and a Small Windmill on the Horizon 1906 - 1907 oil,canvas
Piet Mondrian Portrait of a Girl with Flowers 1900 oil,canvas
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Edward Hopper Prizewinning World War I patriotic poster 1919; United States
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