The School of Pont-Aven

An artists' colony around the painter Paul Gauguin arose in the two small neighboring villages of Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu in Brittany in the late 1880s. However, this circle's concept of art, which can be attributed to Post-Impressionism, had been coined by the work of the younger artist Émile Bernard, whose style was largely taken over by Gauguin after they had met in Pont-Aven.
By seeking to pervade outer appearance, both artists turned away from Impressionism. They rejected painting in front of nature - a basic principle of Impressionism - in order to be independent from the superficial impression of the moment. Thus the examination of nature became a mental intention, creating an artistic vision that had to be illustrated.
This idea of the nature of art was shared by the artists of Pont-Aven with many other avant-gardist, mostly with the expressionists. The quest for simplicity and nativeness was connected therewith, which they figured they had found in the simple lifes of Briton farmers. For the metropolitan artists the peasant women in their traditional costumes represented a pre-industrial way of life and a religiousness that was in harmony with nature, they did not only depict these impressions in their art, but also pursued them in everyday life. These values were expressed by a typified depiction of figures, which transcended all individual traits. Accordingly, they created a space- and timeless ambience by negating any kind of perspective and their balanced compositional surface. No shading, but thick black outlines defined the figures that consisted of unmixed color fields. Their pictures' formal characteristics express a concept of art that stood in opposition to Realism, and a then typical abandoning of Positivism.
Gauguin was soon tired of the Briton idyll and went to Tahiti in 1891. The School of Pont-Aven remained in existence up until 1896. Among the Pont-Aven artists were Louis Anquetin, Mogens Ballin, Henri Delavallée, Charles Filiger, Charles Laval, Maxime Maufra, Meyer de Haan, Emile Schuffenecker, Armand Séguin, Paul Sérusier and Jan Verkade.