Dates: 1888-1898

Origin: Europe

Key Artists: Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne

A style of painting practised in the late 1880s by such French artists as Louis Anquetin, Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin and Paul Sérusier. Essentially it involves the use of strongly outlined planes of minimally modelled, bright colour with simplified drawing. These features undermine the three-dimensionality both of individual objects and of the pictorial space. Cloisonnism represented the rejection of trompe l’oeil painting in favour of an attempt to express the inner character of the subject-matter. Its stylistic elements were soon incorporated into the broader style of Synthetism, which, in turn, formed a current within Symbolism. The term is derived from the cloisonné enamelling technique , in which thin bands of metal are used to outline flat areas filled with coloured enamels. Stained glass, another influence, uses the same principle, with lead creating the distinct outlines around pieces of coloured glass. The French critic Edouard Dujardin was the first to publish the word ‘Cloisonnism’ as descriptive of a new style in art in his essay on Anquetin in La Revue indépendante (1 March 1888, p. 490): ‘The painter traces his design with enclosing lines, within which he places his various tones juxtaposed in order to reproduce the desired sensation of general colouration. Drawing predicates colour and colour predicates drawing. And the work of the painter will be something like painting by compartments, analogous to cloisonné, and his technique consists in a sort of cloisonnisme.’

Boyle-Turner, Caroline. “Cloisonnism.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 11 Mar. 2010 <;

Paul Gauguin

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