June 29, 2009

Sunday in the Park with George or Answer to First Impressions # 5

The George famous for 1,000 points of light is Georges Seurat, not George Bush.

Born 1859, Georges-Pierre Seurat didn’t even make it to the age of 32. In his short career, this French painter and draughtsman produced highly sophisticated drawings and invented the technique of painting known as pointillism. He was the leading figure in the Neo-Impressionism movement.

Seurat was interested in science as well as art, especially scientific colour theory. His aim in his paintings was to separate each colour into its component parts – this process is called Divisionism. Instead of using his palette to mix colours, he allowed them to be blended optically and in order to do this, each colour had to be applied in a small dot of pigment.

Born into a wealthy Parisian family (aren’t they all?) Georges attended the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of military service, he spent the next two years devoting himself to mastering the art of black and white drawing.

His first major painting, a huge canvas titled Bathers at Asnières (1883) was rejected by the Paris Salon. Seurat then shunned the Salon, instead allying himself with the independent artists of Paris.

Seurat's most celebrated demonstration of pointillism, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, was started in 1884 and finished two years later.
Seurat lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch, (Garlic, in German) whom he portrayed in his painting Jeune Femme se Poudrant. In February 1890 she gave birth to his son. It was not until two days before his death that Seurat introduced his young family to his parents.

The cause of Seurat’s death is uncertain. His last ambitious work, The Circus,was left unfinished.


California Girl said...

wonderful to see the paintings and read the background history.

my husband and i saw "Sunday in the Park with George" many years ago with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. It was beautifully done creating the painting on stage. Reminded me of the incredible, annual Pageant of the Masters at the Laguna Arts Festival; a must see for any art lover.

Margaret said...

I love the first painting. Every time I see it I want to go to the park with an umbrella!

Brian Miller said...

love the colors in the first one. captured so well.

Nancy said...

I saw a documentary on him and it said the Sunday in the Park painting and the Bathers might actually be companion painting and could have been hung next to each other.
It was so fascinating watching the documentary on how he used paint.

willow said...

I've seen "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" several times at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's fabulous in person. Love Mandy and Bernadette in "Sunday in the Park with George", too!

dogimo said...

Such a loss, at 32 years of age. Certainly the world was deprived of a number of masterpieces. Would he have kept within that one technique or would he taken it to another level entirely? In any case I hope his young family was provided for.

Poetikat said...

That last one certainly IS ambitious - it's rather Bruegelesque, isn't it?

I read a poem yesterday, CP that you would absolutely LOVE! I'll send it to you when I get a minute.


ds said...

I knew what pointillism was, but had never heard of Divisionism, much less the science behind Seurat's art. Thank you so much. (And I love "Sunday...", both Seurat's and Sondheim's)

Paul Cumes said...

You know the number of painters to die in their 30's is very high. One could write a book about it.

Ima Wizer said...

Gosh, I had no idea he died so young! Just think of what he could have produced had he lived a long rich life of Monet!
Hoping you are well and all is fine.