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Post-Impressionism: The Beginnings of Modern Art

Immerse yourself in the radiant color and light of the Post-Impressionist painters.
Post-Impressionism: The Beginnings of Modern Art is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 60.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Binge watched this course! Amazing content in this course, great pace and clarity from the professor. Hope this isn't going to be his last course.
Date published: 2024-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging tale of Post Impressionism Presenter Allman has a great narrative style. Someone you could listen to all day. He has a command of the subject and context that ties together the stories of individual artists.
Date published: 2024-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Professor, Great Content. The professor was really engaging with eilluminating comments. He also exposed artists and their works that we may not have been familiar with.
Date published: 2024-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very clear what these lectures are about. I found the Professors knowledge and presentation, enthralling. His lectures are very clear, dynamic, fast moving and he reads/talks with wonderfully changing expression. Gaugin is heavily critiqued which I understand and is mostly justified but why has Klimt not received the same critique and derision given his treatment of multiple women, the fathering of multiple children for which he took little or no responsibility. It's got something to do with his worship, obsession of and with women, the nude as well. I learnt many new things about Van Gogh, Cezanne, female impressionists hidden from history but now shining in the light of the professor's expose and championing. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2024-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and engaging I am thoroughly enjoying this course and appreciate Dr. Allman’s relaxed and down-to-earth approach. While I have a traditional academic background, I enjoy this more conversational style, particularly when compared to that of Richard Bretell’s style (the lecturer for the impressionist course) which I felt was a bit stuffy. Also, I appreciate that, unlike Richard Bretell, Ricky Allman doesn’t devote a great deal of time providing what I found to be labored and rather spurious interpretations of the paintings. I also appreciate the attention given to the historical context of the artwork. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2024-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Bridge to Modern Art This course is a useful adjuct to Richard Brettell's History of Impressionism [G.C. No 7187]. Ricky Allman teaches this course in a laid-back format which contrasts it from Brettell's more formal presentation stye (which I happen to prefer). Brettell'scourse also seemed to have more painting examples than this course. Nevertheless, this course makes the crucial junction between the Impressionistic period of the 1860s and 1870s and the beginnings of modern art later in the century.
Date published: 2024-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from After seeing his 24 lectures, I want 24 more I found this course to be both informative and enjoyable to watch. I really appreciated Professor Allman’s enthusiasm and friendly approach to the subject. He has the wonderful ability to explain what he sees in the paintings, including the artist’s techniques. He makes comparisons to earlier works by the artist, showing growth across the Post-Impressionist period and sometimes earlier when artists crossed boundaries from Impressionism. He was not shy about pointing out artist’s personality flaws which are troubling to current sensibilities, while still admiring their work. To me, this was a good balance to maintain and Professor Allman did so expertly. I hope he continues creating courses like this in the future, whether moving forward into modern art or backward into earlier periods of the 19th century, or even previous centuries. After seeing his 24 lectures, I want 24 more.
Date published: 2023-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommend. I have purchased many Great Courses throughout the years and this course is among the very best. I thought that art peaked with the Impressionists but after watching this I will be visiting museums with new eyes.
Date published: 2023-12-20
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Post-Impressionism forever changed the language, conception, and methods of painting, producing an astonishing number of the most beloved paintings in the history of art. This course takes you into the dazzling world of artists such as Paul Cézanne; Georges Seurat; Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; Paul Gauguin; Gustav Klimt, and many others, in a breathtaking and transformative era in painting.


Ricky Allman

Art has a unique way to make us see our world, our times, and ourselves in a different way. It helps us make sense of the world around us.


University of Missouri, Kansas City

Ricky Allman is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. He earned an MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. His paintings have been exhibited in such American cities as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles and internationally in London, Beijing, and Edinburgh, among other cities. His work has also been featured in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times and Harper’s Magazine. He has received the UMKC Trustees’ Faculty Scholar Award and Charlotte Street’s Visual Artist Award.

By This Professor

Post-Impressionism: The Beginnings of Modern Art
How to Paint
Post-Impressionism: The Beginnings of Modern Art


Where Post-Impressionism Began

01: Where Post-Impressionism Began

Begin with a broad look at the Post-Impressionists, as they constituted a daring new movement in art at a time of massive change. Take note of their diversity, and the themes that connected them. Then learn about the work of the Impressionists who preceded them, who broke free of the strictures of academic art, seeking freedom of expression and an art that reflected life around them.

28 min
The Founder, Paul Cézanne

02: The Founder, Paul Cézanne

Explore the remarkable story of how Paul Cézanne revolutionized painting. In the first of two lectures, enter the world of his youth and provincial upbringing. Trace his artistic education, his critical time in Paris, and the influence of his deep friendship with Camille Pissarro. Learn how, in Pissarro’s company, the darkness of his early works gave way to color, light, and innovative technique.

25 min
Paul Cézanne’s New Way of Seeing

03: Paul Cézanne’s New Way of Seeing

Follow the arc of Cézanne’s career and note his bold originality in distilling the visual field to underlying structures of geometric shape, color, and value. In his great landscapes, still lifes, and images of bathers, study his groundbreaking experimentation with perspective, space, time, and ways of seeing that influenced generations of artists and paved the way for Cubism and modernism.

27 min
How Science and Industry Are Changing Art

04: How Science and Industry Are Changing Art

Learn how the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, new technologies, and the urban transformation of Paris impacted the lives of artists. Grasp how artists made use of new scientific knowledge about color and light. Then, visualize a full day in the life of a Post-Impressionist painter, from visits to cafes and art stores to the daily activities of painting and the lure of Belle Époque nightlife.

26 min
Camille Pissarro’s Experiments in Style

05: Camille Pissarro’s Experiments in Style

Trace the extraordinary life and impact of Pissarro, both as an artist and an influence on other artists. Study the changing approaches and techniques that drove his work, as he became first an Impressionist and then a Post-Impressionist. Take account of his generous nature, his support of other artists, and his openness to new perspectives, all of which characterized his long and fruitful life.

25 min
Georges Seurat’s Vision of the People

06: Georges Seurat’s Vision of the People

Witness how Seurat invented a new way of painting, fusing classical training with optical science and color theory. Explore his long process of experimentation, and his trademark technique of divisionism (pointillism), where the eye blends colors that are applied separately on the canvas. Study his iconic works depicting Belle Époque Paris and note his deep influence on fellow artists.

26 min
Politics and Religion on the Canvas

07: Politics and Religion on the Canvas

Delve into the political and religious upheavals of late 19th-century France, as they impacted the Post-Impressionist artists and their work. Investigate the devastating effects on Paris of the Franco-Prussian War, followed by the Paris Commune and the dramatic tensions surrounding the Alfred Dreyfus affair. Grasp how declining church power and political radicalism affected the making of art.

28 min
Divisionism: Using the Science of Color

08: Divisionism: Using the Science of Color

Discover how a group of dedicated artists used Seurat’s principles of color theory and divisionism to promote political ideals. Learn about the group’s embrace of the utopian goals of anarchism, and how they represented these ideals pictorially in their art, highlighting the works of ringleader Paul Signac, as well as Charles Angrand, Hippolyte Petitjean, and Théo van Rysselberghe.

26 min
Japanese Influence and Les Nabis

09: Japanese Influence and Les Nabis

The Nabis, a fraternity of painters with a spiritual and mystical inclination, were active as a group from 1888 to 1900. In the works of Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, and others, observe how they sought to find magic and an inner layer of reality in ordinary moments of daily life. Also, take account of the strong influence of Japanese art on the Post-Impressionist artists.

26 min
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris by Night

10: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris by Night

The art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is among the most iconic of the Belle Époque and of Post-Impressionism. Trace his artistic education, and his life within the bohemian circles of Montmartre. Witness the development of his unique work, which captured the excitement and sensuality of Paris nightlife, reaching a wide audience through his groundbreaking artistic use of the medium of the poster.

26 min
How Photography Is Transforming Art

11: How Photography Is Transforming Art

Look into the camera’s long influence on art, starting with the camera obscura, and follow the rise of modern photography in the 19th century. Grasp how the advent of photographs freed painters from the need to accurately reproduce reality. Note the ways in which artists made use of the camera, to bring new possibilities to composition, and to capture fleeting moments for use in their work.

25 min
The Singular Talent, Vincent van Gogh

12: The Singular Talent, Vincent van Gogh

Take an intimate look at Vincent van Gogh, and his singular path to artistic greatness. Trace his early life and influences, from his troubled youth to his decision at age 27 to embark on the life of an artist. Follow his rigorous artistic self-education, and the unfolding of his early work, from his brilliant drawings to his first watercolors and oils, highlighting his ambitious The Potato Eaters.

24 min
Van Gogh’s Genius and Tragedy

13: Van Gogh’s Genius and Tragedy

In this second lecture, take the measure of Van Gogh’s genius. Learn about his important years in Paris, Arles, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and the transformation of his work through contact with other artists and new ideas about color and composition. Study his sublime later works, which pulsate with color, light, and emotion. Witness the toll taken by his mental illness, leading to his death by suicide.

27 min
Cloisonnism: Bold Colors and Dark Contours

14: Cloisonnism: Bold Colors and Dark Contours

Cloisonnism takes its name from the French cloisonné, meaning “partitions” or “compartments.” Encounter the artists of this short-lived movement, whose work featured blocks of color separated by clear outlines and sharp edges. Study important paintings in this style, from the eclectic works of Emile Bernard to the bold compositions of Paul Sérusier and the refined beauty of Louis Anquetin.

25 min
Paul Gauguin’s Complicated Legacy

15: Paul Gauguin’s Complicated Legacy

Paul Gauguin was both a major painter and a troubling figure. Travel the arc of his artistic life, and the evolution of his painting from his compelling early works to his late, masterful Tahitian scenes. Contrast the greatness of his art with his personal behavior: his neglect of family, serial liaisons with teenage girls, self-mythologizing, and misrepresentation of foreign cultures in his art.

28 min
Suzanne Valadon’s Rebellious Vision

16: Suzanne Valadon’s Rebellious Vision

Uncover the remarkable art of Suzanne Valadon, a lesser-known yet important Post-Impressionist. Track her journey from early fame as a model for major artists to becoming a painter herself, penetrating a male-dominated world and earning the deep respect of her colleagues. Delve into the great qualities of her work, which challenged key tropes of Western art, and learn why she was forgotten.

26 min
How Philosophy and Culture Are Shaping Art

17: How Philosophy and Culture Are Shaping Art

Grasp how the ideas of Hegel, Descartes, Nietzsche, and Freud influenced the Post-Impressionists’ conception of the nature and purpose of art, impacting the focus of their work. Also, learn about pop culture trends that influenced the Post-Impressionists, such as the vogues for absinthe, spiritualism and the occult, magic shows, circuses, theatrical spectacle, and world fairs.

29 min
Symbolism: Dreams and Metaphors

18: Symbolism: Dreams and Metaphors

The Symbolists aimed to express deeper truths through a novel use of symbol, metaphor, and emotion. In the arresting and fantasy-like imagery of James Ensor, Fernand Khnopff, Evelyn de Morgan, and Félicien Rops, see how these artists use motifs of dreams, myth, horror, sex, and fantastic creatures to unsettle and provoke viewers, critique modern society, and explore hidden aspects of our world.

27 min
Odilon Redon’s Fantastic Worlds

19: Odilon Redon’s Fantastic Worlds

Redon, one of art’s great eccentrics, lived to see the admiration of his colleagues and the public during his lifetime. Study his influences, and his bizarre and fantastic drawings, revealing a dark and melancholy mindset. Note the transformation of his work into shimmering color, warmth, and sensual richness. View the lush textures of his later paintings, encompassing reality, myth, and fantasy.

27 min
Henri Rousseau’s Jungles of the Mind

20: Henri Rousseau’s Jungles of the Mind

Assess the qualities of Rousseau’s singular style, visually akin to folk or “primitivist” art, yet imbued with his own unusual and idiosyncratic sensibility. Witness how, despite fundamental technical errors and lack of any artistic training, he walked his own path in his unusual depictions of jungles, landscapes, and imaginative imagery, creating paintings of tremendous and enduring impact.

25 min
Post-Impressionism beyond France

21: Post-Impressionism beyond France

Though the Post-Impressionist movement was concentrated in France, its influence on artists spread far beyond. View outstanding works by painters from England, Argentina, the United States, Sweden, and Ukraine. Note the time lag in the diffusion of artistic knowledge, and how artists in other countries adapted the thinking and techniques of Post-Impressionism to their own cultures and priorities.

28 min
Edvard Munch’s Emotional Palette

22: Edvard Munch’s Emotional Palette

Influenced by the French Post-Impressionists, as well as by German art, Edvard Munch forged a style that was uniquely his own. Observe how he channeled family tragedy and his own angst into dreamlike imagery that explores people’s inner experience. Note the reflection of his personal life in his work; his later change to brighter, more hopeful works; and his ultimate acclaim and honor as an artist.

27 min
Gustav Klimt’s Journey to Art Nouveau

23: Gustav Klimt’s Journey to Art Nouveau

Travel the remarkable trajectory of Klimt, a phenomenal talent with many influences, from prodigious classical murals to radiant society portraits to his famous glittering, golden images. Take account of his long fascination with portraying women, and his trademark melding of intense patterning, gold leaf and striking colors, myth, and metaphor, within richly imaginative compositions.

27 min
Why Post-Impressionism Matters

24: Why Post-Impressionism Matters

Complete the course with a look at when Post-Impressionism ended, and at the artists who embody the transition from Post-Impressionism to modern art. Look first at Cubism, which laid the foundations for abstraction, and the Fauves, with their dramatic and non-realistic use of color. Finish with the trailblazing works of Juan Gris, Franz Marc, Joseph Stella, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kazimir Malevich.

36 min

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