GEORGES SEURAT ( 1859-1891) REVOLUTIONARY POST-IMPRESSIONIST ARCHITECT OF POINTILLISM AND DIVISIONISM IN 19TH CENTURY FRANCE

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Georges Seurat was a Revolutionary artist who used perfect perspective and composition to arrange geometrically his compositions. He had a profound influence on art in the 20th Century.  “The art of Seurat and his followers laid the foundation for 20th Century modernism , whose antinomies are named Picasso , and Matisse Mondrian and Miro , Albers and Riveria”. [1].

“The founder and leader of Neo-Impressionism and its only Genius  was undoubtedly Georges Seurat”. [2].

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Georges Seurat - Seated and Standing Woman

La Grande Jatte Seurat’s famous painting shows how People are enjoying a Sunday afternoon near a Boating Lake. It is a perfect composition showing how every character fits into the picture so harmoniously. “A Manifesto painting ‘A Sunday afternoon in the Island of Grande Jatte’ is a life  sized depiction of a Sunday Idyll”. [3].

“Seurat has subjected his landscape and especially his figures to a strict proportional and classical schema based upon ‘Vitruvius’ (Roman artist) who Durer so admired”. [4].

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“Seurat showed in all his paintings a complete scientific outlook which he used with amazing precision. ” Seurat continued in his pursuit of scientific esthetic and was soon convinced that he had discovered scientifically with the experience of Art the law of Pictorial colour” [5].

“By means of Seurat’s scientific and Dialectical approach to Painting in which the barriers between art work and the world are broken down .He  sought to restore to Painting the cultural significance it had lost with the demise of classicism and academic History painting”. [6].

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Seurat like his friends Maximillen Luce and Paul Signac supported the art of the Working class and attempted to paint scenes of Working class life. There is no evidence of the Flaneur and the Bourgeois middle class so evident in paintings by Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. Here was an artist like Van Gogh who espoused Socialism.

” Seurat sought to break down the distinction between artist and worker, fine and Industrial art”. [7].

“Seurat’s achievement was to explore this paradox through an art that was dialectical. The drawings and paintings of Seurat are all at once relentlessly scientific and ingratiatingly popular”. [8].

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Seurat like the great realist Gustave Courbet  tried to portray real working class people and to revolutionise art in the process. Like Courbet he never married and had  a relationship with a Mistress.

“Seurat sought as well to return to the enterprise of painting the social and collective meaning it had lost with the destruction as we have seen of Courbet’s project of Realism”. [9].

Many commentators have remarked on how Seurat used his scientific approach to art to create distance and remarkable use of his Pointillism technique. “The resulting synthesis was similar to the drawings-a distancing of the subject achieved by the contrasting means of covering the canvass surface with an even spread of dashes or dots”. [10].

“From our appreciation of understanding of his highly deliberate painting for his is a self-sufficient  artist which is to be understood in terms of its formal and plastic qualities”. [11].

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Georges Seurat - The Bank of the Seine

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Many commentators have observed that Seurat studied optics and the relationship to the eye and he always ensured that perspective, light , dark shadows and harmonious relationships between different objects was crucial to understanding his compositions.

“”Aware that painting addresses itself to the eye he investigated optics with a thoroughness not known since the studies made by the Renaissance masters”. [12].

His use of colour and different tones has been remarked by several Art Historians. “His deeply moving orchestration of tones and colours and his tireless search for a living geometrization  of form began to be appreciated”. [13].

” Seurat’s method was summed up best by Signac the Chromo-Luminarist he says can secure the maximum  of coloration , Luminosity and Harmony”. [14].

In this short article of Georges Seurat a great revolutionary painter who revolutionised Impressionism with his painting of real life particularly in the Working class. He was set apart from the Impressionism of Monet , Manet  and Renoir who were just interested in painting pretty pictures using light and colour. He was influenced by the great Realist Courbet and like Van Gogh his use of coloration was to influence 20th Century artists like Roy Lichenstein . Eugene Delacroix was another artist who influenced him, but with Signac and Luce he developed a scientific and dialectical approach to Art that without exception was crucial in understanding 19th Century Painting.

FOOTNOTES

1) 19TH CENTURY ART A CRITICAL REVIEW PG 318

2)  DITTO  PG 318

3)  DITTO  PG 320

4)  DITTO PG 321

5)  DITTO  PG 322

6)  DITTO PG 323

7)  DITTO PG 325

8)  DITTO PG 330

9)  DITTO PG 323

10) POST IMPRESSIONISM  SEURAT PG 17

11) GEORGES SEURAT PIERRE COUTHON PG 9

12  DITTO PG 14

13) DITTO PG 35

14) DITTO PG38.

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