The Great Book of Post-Impressionism

Diane Kedler, Author, Diane Kelder, Author Abbeville Press $49.98 (383p) ISBN 978-0-89659-574-3
Our entry into a postmodernist period in art would seem to demand a new evaluation of the very foundation of modernismpostimpressionism. But Kelder's book, which takes off from her previous Great Book of French Impressionism, fails to provide such a new perspective. She rehearses Roger Fry's definition of postimpressionismas a rejection of impressionism's commitment to fleeting sensation and naturalism in favor of autonomous design, decorative effects and imaginationwhile extending his time and space coordinates to include, on the one hand, fauvist, cubist and School of Paris painting, and on the other, Belgian, German and Italian variants. Familiar ""movements'' (and the position individual artists occupy within them) are examined in isolation as the components of postimpressionism: neo-impressionism characterized by its scientific and progressive bias; symbolism by its espousal of art for art's sake, decadence, death and the occult, etc. This unexceptional rendition of an oft-told story nevertheless provides some fresh elements. They include sections dealing with lesser-known artists such as Giuseppe Volpedo in Italy and Fernand Khnopff in Belgium, unusual examples of works by Bonnard and Vuillard and statements by participating artists and critics liberally sprinkled throughout the text. The quality of the abundant reproductions (418, 236 in color) is good but not great, and they are usually handy to the explanatory text. (October 3)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
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