The Anatomy of Disruption: European and American Painting 1880-1906

BEFORE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, Surrealism, Constructivism, Dadaism, Cubism and all the other 20th-century movements, before them came Post-Impressionism. The story of how this term originated in the camarilla of Roger Fry, as a throw-away title for a 1910 exhibit of dead French radicals active 20 years earlier, has often been told. Their generation was said to have represented a turning point in the avant-garde that even many years later could only be characterized negatively, as having appeared after and in conscious challenge to an earlier movement. That is what the word “post,” in art language, generally implies.

Indefinitely broadened to include painting on several fronts during 1880–1906, “Post-Impressionism,” a misnamed show mounted last winter by the Royal Academy, traveled in very reduced if still grandiose form from London to the National Gallery of Art in Washington this past

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1980 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.