| Georges-Pierre SeuratAn iconic painter of the 19th century, no other artists produced paintings precisely like those of Seurat. Influenced by earlier artists from the 19th century such as the Impressionists, Seurat took his work a step farther. With a quick first glance his paintings can be mistaken for being just another one of the Impressionist’s works. However, Seurat began an art style that is still largely his own. This was Pointillism.
| Georges-Pierre Seurat biographyGeorges-Pierre Seurat (December 2, 1859 – March 29, 1891) was a French painter and the founder of Neo-impressionism. His large work Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, his most famous painting, altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of 19th century painting
|Georges-Pierre Seurat (2 December 1859 – 29 March 1891) was a French painter and draftsman. His large work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886), his most famous painting, altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of 19th century painting.|
Seurat was born into a wealthy family in Paris. His father, Antoine Chrysostom Seurat, was a legal official and a native of Champagne; his mother, Ernestine Faivre, was Parisian. Georges Seurat first studied art with Justin Lequiene, a sculptor. Seurat attended the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of service at Brest Military Academy, he returned to Paris in 1880. He shared a small studio on the Left Bank with two student friends before moving to a studio of his own. For the next two years he devoted himself to mastering the art of black and white drawing. He spent 1883 on his first major painting — a huge canvas titled Bathers at Asnières.
After his painting was rejected by the Paris Salon, Seurat turned away from such establishments, instead allying himself with the independent artists of Paris. In 1884 he and other artists (including Maximilien Luce) formed the Société des Artistes Indépendants. There he met and befriended fellow artist Paul Signac. Seurat shared his new ideas about pointillism with Signac, who subsequently painted in the same idiom. In the summer of 1884 Seurat began work on his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which took him two years to complete.
Later he moved from the Boulevard de Clichy to a quieter studio nearby, where he lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch, whom he portrayed in his painting "Jeune femme se poudrant". In February 1890 she gave birth to his son, who was given the first name of Pierre Georges. It was not until two days before his death that he introduced his young family to his parents. Shortly after his death, Madeleine gave birth to his second son, whose name is unknown, and who died at birth or soon after.
The cause of Seurat's death is uncertain, and has been attributed to a form of meningitis, pneumonia, infectious angina, and/or (most probably) diphtheria. His elder son died two weeks later from the same disease. His last ambitious work, The Circus, was left unfinished at the time of his death.
Detail from La Parade (1889) showing pointillism Scientific background and influences
During the 19th century, scientist-writers such as Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood and David Sutter wrote treatises on color, optical effects and perception. They were able to translate the scientific research of Helmholtz and Newton into a written form that was understandable by non-scientists. Chevreul was perhaps the most important influence on artists at the time; his great contribution was producing a color wheel of primary and intermediary hues.
Chevreul was a French chemist who restored old tapestries. During his restorations of tapestries he noticed that the only way to restore a section properly was to take into account the influence of the colors around the missing wool; he could not produce the right hue unless he recognized the surrounding dyes. Chevreul discovered that two colors juxtaposed, slightly overlapping or very close together, would have the effect of another color when seen from a distance. The discovery of this phenomenon became the basis for the Pointillist technique of the Neoimpressionist painters.
Chevreul also realized that the 'halo' that one sees after looking at a color is actually the opposing, or complementary, color. For example: After looking at a red object, one may see a cyan echo/halo of the original object. This complementary color (as an example, cyan for red) is due to retinal persistence. Neoimpressionist painters interested in the interplay of colors made extensive use of complementary colors in their paintings. In his works Chevreul advised artists that they should not just paint the color of the object being depicted, but rather they should add colors and make appropriate adjustments to achieve a harmony. It seems that the harmony Chevreul wrote about is what Seurat came to call 'emotion'.
According to Professor Anne Beauchemin from McGill University, most Neoimpressionist painters probably did not read Chevreul's books, but instead they read Grammaire des arts du dessin, written in 1867 by Charles Blanc, who cited Chevreul's works. Blanc's book was targeted at artists and art connoisseurs. color had an emotional significance for him, and he made explicit recommendations to artists which were close to the theories later adopted by the Neoimpressionists. He said that color should not be based on the 'judgment of taste', but rather it should be close to what we experience in reality. Blanc did not want artists to use equal intensities of color, but rather to consciously plan and understand the role of each hue.
Another important influence on the Neoimpressionists was Ogden Rood, who also studied color and optical effects. Whereas the theories of Chevreul are based on Newton's thoughts on the mixing of light, Rood's writings are based on the work of Helmholtz, and as such he analyzed the effects of mixing together and juxtaposing material pigments. For Rood, the primary colors were red, green, and blue-violet. Like Chevreul, he stated that if two colors are placed next to each other, from a distance they look like a third distinctive color. Rood also pointed out that the juxtaposition of primary hues next to each other would create a far more intense and pleasing color when perceived by the eye and mind than the corresponding color made by mixing paint. Rood advised that artists be aware of the difference between additive and subtractive qualities of color, since material pigments and optical pigments (light) do not mix together in the same way:
Material pigments: Red + Yellow + Blue = Black
Optical / Light : Red + Green + Blue = White
Other influences on Seurat included Sutter's Phenomena of Vision (1880) in which he wrote that "the laws of harmony can be learned as one learns the laws of harmony and music", as well as mathematician Charles Henry who in the 1880s delivered monologues at the Sorbonne about the emotional properties and symbolic meaning of lines and color. Henry's ideas were quickly adopted by the founder of Neoimpressionism.
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886, The Art Institute of Chicago. Seurat's melding of science and emotion
Seurat took to heart the color theorists' notion of a scientific approach to painting. Seurat believed that a painter could use color to create harmony and emotion in art in the same way that a musician uses counterpoint and variation to create harmony in music. Seurat theorized that the scientific application of color was like any other natural law, and he was driven to prove this conjecture. He thought that the knowledge of perception and optical laws could be used to create a new language of art based on its own set of heuristics and he set out to show this language using lines, color intensity and color schema. Seurat called this language Chromoluminarism.
His letter to Maurice Beaubourg in 1890 captures his feelings about the scientific approach to emotion and harmony. He says "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".
Seurat's theories can be summarized as follows: The emotion of gaiety can be achieved by the domination of luminous hues, by the predominance of warm colors, and by the use of lines directed upward. Calm is achieved through an equivalence/balance of the use of the light and the dark, by the balance of warm and cold colors, and by lines that are horizontal. Sadness is achieved by using dark and cold colors and by lines pointing downward.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte shows members of each of the social classes participating in various park activities. The tiny juxtaposed dots of multi-colored paint allow the viewer's eye to blend colors optically, rather than having the colors blended on the canvas or pre-blended as a material pigment. It took Seurat two years to complete this ten foot wide painting, much of which he spent in the park sketching in preparation for the work (there are about 60 studies). It is now in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Georges Pierre Seurat (Paris 2 décembre 1859 - Gravelines 29 mars 1891), peintre français, pionnier du pointillisme et du divisionnisme qu'on peut qualifier d'impressionnisme scientifique et qui étudie les divisions de la matière à celle de la lumière. Georges Seurat nait dans un milieu bourgeois. Son père, un fonctionnaire, est un homme solitaire,...|
Georges-Pierre Seurat (Paris 2 décembre 1859 - Paris 29 mars 1891), peintre français, pionnier du pointillisme et du divisionnisme que l'on peut qualifier d'impressionnisme scientifique. Peintre de genre, figures, portraits, paysages animés, paysages, peintre à la gouache, dessinateur. Georges-Pierre Seurat naît le 2 décembre 1859 à Paris, dans un ...|
Georges-Pierre Seurat ([ʒɔʁʒ pjɛʁ sø'ʁa] * 2. Dezember 1859 in Paris † 29. März 1891 ebenda) war ein französischer Maler und, neben Paul Signac, wichtigster Vertreter des Pointillismus. Georges-Pierre Seurat wurde am 2. Dezember 1859 in der Rue de Bondy 60 in Paris geboren. Sein Vater war ein Gerichtsdiener im Ruhestand, der ein kleines Vermögen ...|
Georges-Pierre Seurat (Parigi, 2 dicembre 1859 – Gravelines, 29 marzo 1891) è stato un pittore francese, pioniere del movimento puntinista. Georges-Pierre Seurat nacque il 2 dicembre 1859 a Parigi, dove si occupava di giardinaggio, collezionava quadri di soggetto devozionale e celebrava personalmente la messa domenicale nella cappella privata in pr...|
Georges-Pierre Seurat (París, 2 de diciembre de 1859 – 29 de marzo de 1891) fue un pintor francés y el fundador del Neoimpresionismo. Su trabajo Tarde de domingo en la isla de la Grande Jatte es uno de los íconos de la pintura del siglo XIX. A pesar del humilde trabajo de su padre, que era alguacil, su familia poseía una serie de tierras que genera...|
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Georges-Pierre Seurat (02 dezembro de 1859 - 29 Março 1891) foi um pintor francês e desenhista. Sua grande obra Um domingo à tarde na Ilha de La Grande Jatte (1884-1886), a sua pintura mais famosa, alterou o sentido da arte moderna, iniciando Neo-impressionismo, e é um dos ícones da pintura do século 19. Vida Seurat nasceu em uma família rica em Pa...|
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