Synthetism is a term used by post-Impressionist artists, including Paul Gauguin, to differentiate their artistic approach from Impressionism.
Synthetism is an artistic method that emerged in the 1880s, primarily associated with artists like Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, and Louis Anquetin. It was a departure from Impressionist art and theory, focusing on creating two-dimensional flat patterns. This style represented a deliberate shift away from direct observation of nature, emphasising memory instead.
Paul Gauguin introduced the term "’synthetism’, wherein he aimed to synthesise the form, including colour planes and lines, with the primary idea or feeling of the subject. While he had exhibited with the Impressionists until 1886, he disagreed with their approach, finding it superficial and neglectful of deeper thought and ideas.
Gauguin sought to establish a new decorative art style, characterised by pure areas of colour, a limited number of strong lines, and an almost two-dimensional arrangement of elements. He spent summers in Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu, Brittany, France, in 1886 and 1888, alongside Bernard and other followers, where he formed the Synthetist group.