Did you know that Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (famously featured in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) isn’t painted with brushstrokes, but rather, millions of tiny dots? It’s true!
Georges Seurat’s style of painting came to be known as known as Pointillism, and was considering revolutionary at the time, inspiring a new movement in art, Neo-impressionism. La Grande Jatte was painted when Seurat was only 25, but went on to become his most famous work. Seurat’s method of taking multiple dots of different primary colors, which seen from a distance appear to be one solid color (such as dots of yellow and blue which appear green to the eye) was actually inspired by science. Michel Eugéne Chevreul was one of the initial scientists who had written that multiple overlapping colors appear to form a third color when seen from farther away, and this observation opened up a whole new world to the young Seurat.
While his style was initially rejected by traditionalists in the art world, La Grande Jatte quickly turned opinions in his favor, making Seurat one of the fortunate artists to actually attain significant acclaim during his lifetime.
Continuing to be inspired by scientific theories of the time, Seurat experimented with the emotional impact of colors on the human psyche, believing that colors “spoke” to the observer in a language of their own. Seurat coined a term for this language, calling it “chromoluminarism”.
Seurat also received a great deal of acclaim from his fellow respected artists, even before the general public caught on, with famed artist Renoir noting the uniqueness of Seurat’s style, stating “Veronese’s Marriage at Cana done in petit point. I cannot imagine it, but neither can I imagine Seurat’s pictures painted in broad or blended stroke”.
Want to learn more about Georges Seurat? Check out Art with Mati and Dada: Seurat on Discovery Education Streaming!