The term “neo-impressionism” suggests a sequel to impressionism and, just like with movie sequels, there is a faint lowering of expectations. But this is entirely the wrong way to approach “Neo-Impressionism: from Light to Color” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Some visitors will expect to see something from the earlier movement, and this box is ticked with a few relatively uninspiring seascapes by Claude Monet and some other impressionist works, such as Berthe Morisot’s lush, unfinished “The Garden at Bougival” (1884). But the sooner you shrug off the idea of this being “Impressionism II,” the sooner this show will start to make sense.
Despite its backward-looking name, neo-impressionism was in essence a radical “year zero” movement that wanted to reinvent the artistic wheel.
Impressionist painters had realized that keeping some dabs of color unmixed on the canvas would heighten the works’ power