Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat was a French Impressionist painter who developed his own offshoot of Impressionism, called Pointilism. In Pointilist paintings, the artist applies distinct dots of individual colors directly to the canvas, and the colors are then blended by the viewer's vision. The example here is a detail from Seurat's La Parade de Cirque. It prefigures pixels, and is almost as scientific as it is artistic.

The color wheel had just been developed when Seurat came up with the concept of pointilism. He believed that color could be used to produce different types of harmony in a painting, and that would then produce different types of emotions in the viewer.

According to Seurat, "Art is Harmony. Harmony is the analogy of the contrary and of similar elements of tone, of color and of line, considered according to their dominance and under the influence of light, in gay, calm or sad combinations."

His most well-known painting is Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. This painting hangs at The Art Institute of Chicago. I have to admit, the first time I saw this painting, I cried. It's huge (81.7 inches by 121.25 inches), so huge that it's emotionally overpowering. He spent over two years working on this one piece, including many preliminary sketches. It's also surrounded by a frame of painted dots. To this day, it remains one of the most beautiful and inspiring objects that I have ever seen in my life.

I have a print of this hanging over my kitchen sink. No, really, I wash dishes to La Grande Jatte. Tonight, I'm going to take it off the wall and set it on my bead board. I don't know if there's a way to translate the vivid technique of Pointilism to my jewelry, but I would love to be somehow inspired by this genius. He only lived to be thirty-one. Wow. And he spent two years of his short life creating this one masterpiece. That's what I call inspiring.

I'm going to try for harmony.


  1. Oh I remember this dude in art school....love that Pointilism look and I woud love to be in that Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte painting.
    Perfect sunday.

  2. It's one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had with a piece of art. I wasn't prepared for how overpowering it would be. I know that sounds goofy, but it's true.