Cloisonnism: Post-Impressionist painting style

Cloisonnism: Post-Impressionist painting style

Cloisonnism is a style of post-Impressionist painting with bold and flat forms separated by dark contours. The term was coined by critic Edouard Dujardin on the occasion of the Salon des Indépendants, in March 1888. Artists Emile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, Paul Gauguin, Paul Serusier, and others started painting in this style in the late 19th century. The name evokes the technique of cloisonné, where wires (cloisons or “compartments”) are soldered to the body of the piece, filled with powdered glass, and then fired. Many of the same painters also described their works as Synthetism, a closely related movement.

Paul Gauguin: The Yellow Christ 1889

Paul Gauguin: The Yellow Christ 1889


In Paul Gauguins The Yellow Christ 1889, often cited as a quintessential cloisonnist work, Gauguin reduced the image to areas of single colors separated by heavy black outlines.

In such works he paid little attention to classical perspective and boldly eliminated subtle gradations of color — two of the most characteristic principles of post-Renaissance painting.

The cloisonnist separation of colors reflects an appreciation for discontinuity that is characteristic of Modernism.



Paul Gauguin: The Vision after the Sermon - Jacob wrestling with the Angel 1888

Paul Gauguin: The Vision after the Sermon – Jacob wrestling with the Angel 1888

Louis Anquetin: Women Reading 1890

Louis Anquetin: Women Reading 1890

Paul Serusier: The Talisman - Landscape - Forest of Love in Pont-Aven 1888

Paul Serusier: The Talisman – Landscape – Forest of Love in Pont-Aven 1888



Emile Bernard: Self Portrait with portrait of Gauguin 1888

Emile Bernard: Self Portrait with portrait of Gauguin 1888 – dedicated to Vincent van Gogh.

Emile Bernard: Breton Women in the Meadow 1888

Emile Bernard: Breton Women in the Meadow 1888 – Bernard exchanged this one with Gauguin who brought it to Arles in autumn 1888 when he joined Van Gogh, who was fond of this style. Van Gogh painted a copy in watercolor to inform his brother Theo about it.

Vincent van Gogh: Breton Women - after Emile Bernard 1888

Vincent van Gogh: Breton Women – after Emile Bernard 1888 – Van Gogh painted this copy in watercolor to inform his brother Theo about it.