Georges Seurat, 1859-1891
By Anna Niederlander
Born on December 2nd, 1859 in Paris, Georges Seurat is known as the pioneer of Neo-Impressionism. His oeuvre is quite small due to his premature death at the age of only 31, however the works he produced had a lasting impact on the art world.
He was born into a prosperous family and encouraged to attend art lessons from an early age. He attended numerous art schools, was taught by the sculptor Justin Lequien, and his circle of friends included infamous and rebellious Post-Impressionist artists, such as Camille Pissarro.
Neo-Impressionists where fascinated by the concept of mélange optique (optical mixture). Systematic calculations and theories, many discovered by Seurat himself, were used to apply coloured dots on a canvas; this technique came to be called “pointillism.” These dots were separated from one another in order to reflect light and enhance the contrast between the colours.
“Some say they see poetry in my painting, I see only science,” said Georges Seurat. His career was marked by his never-ending investigation into the theory of colour. He linked his scientific and emotional theories to colour, making colours into a new language. One of his most influential works, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte depicts middle-class Parisians during their leisure time. The figures have a sense of solemnity and timelessness, while at the same time Seurat’s colour technique creates a luminous and compelling surface texture. He diverged greatly from the norms of the impressionists, confounding the expectation of the nineteenth-century viewer. Seurat revolutionized the way of painting in 19th century France.
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