Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Artist Names: Post-Impressionists

Salut, mes lecteurs!

Allow me once again to indulge myself in the names of (primarily European) artists! If you're interested in more of the series, check out Impressionist Names and Italian Renaissance Names.

Today we'll be looking at the Post-Impressionists!

This style emerged as a reaction to Impressionism - while the Impressionists pioneered "natural" light and painting from life, the Post-Impressionists chose to pursue "art for art's sake" and experiment with color, painting styles, abstraction, and distortion. Disclaimer - a lot of my personal favorite artists are in this category, so be ready for some overexcited adulation.

Paul Cézanne
Considered the link between the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Paul Cézanne was incredibly influential to later artists and was arguably the father of Cubism. His paintings play with form and perspective, distorting their subjects in the name of visibility. As for his name - Paul is a common, established English choice already. Cézanne, on the other hand, is a hardly-used possibility; the two-syllable sound and -an ending make it accessible, but it's less pretentious than Picasso or Matisse. The last time it was recorded by the SSA was in 2000 - 7 girls were named Cézanne that year.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa)
One of my absolute favorite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec made a name for himself by painting the beautiful underworld of Paris' Montmartre neighborhood. Prostitutes, dancers, famous Parisians and other artists provided the content for his work, and his posters for the Moulin Rouge are still popular today. While the equivalent Henry is well-known and in wide use, I think Toulouse has the ability to enter the name scene - it's also an underused place name.

Vincent van Gogh (Vincent Willem van Gogh)
Possibly the most famous artist on this list, Vincent van Gogh's tragic life and numerous works of art have made their way through the zeitgeist tenfold. Who hasn't seen a print of Starry Night, or Sunflowers, or his self-portraits? (With and without his ear). The name Vincent has stayed strong at the bottom of the top 100 for over 100 years - it means "conquering". Trivia - his siblings were Theo, Cornelis, Anna, Elisabeth, and Willemina.

Henri Rousseau (Henri Julien Félix Rousseau)
While he is well-known for his intricate and colorful jungle paintings, Henri Rousseau never actually visited a jungle. His legacy as an influence on avant-garde artists is still felt today - his art inspired the animation style of the children's film, Madagascar. I think his middle names hold the most promise for use today - Julian (English spelling) is at #47 and Felix is at #267 in the US. The names mean "youthful" and "fortunate", respectively.

Paul Gauguin (Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin)
Another Post-impressionist artist whose work with color is popular today, Paul Gauguin is also known for his Tahitian paintings. He is one of the fathers of Symbolism and Primitivism in art, which is controversial, but still influential. For the life of me, I can't recommend Eugene or Gauguin as names, so let me include the names of his family members: wife, Mette-Sophie, and children Émile, Aline, Clovis, Jean René, and Paul Rollon.

Georges-Pierre Seurat
The artist of the painting at the top of the post, Georges Seurat was a pioneer in pointillism - painting small dots of color next to one another to achieve a larger effect. While he only lived to 31, the paintings created during his life were influential for later artists interested in color, mathematical painting, and chromoluminarism. His last name, Seurat, isn't too far off from top 1000 favorites Montserrat and Monserrat - a definite possibility.

Which names are your favorites? Is there another artistic era you'd like me to focus on? Tell me in the comments!

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