It has been a while since I last wrote about art. Today I want to introduce you to Pointillism. Pointillism is a painting technique where painters put dots (points in French) of colours on a medium (canvas or panel). It is a stream of Neo-Impressionism.
Pioneers of Pointillism are french painters Georges Seurat & Paul Signac, they started developing this painting technique in 1886. It was revolutionary at that time because instead of traditionally blending the paint on the palette and put it on canvas with brush strokes, Seurat and Signac applied dots of primary colours and white directly on canvas.
The first time my late father showed me Pointillism painting was the one from Seurat. I used to think the painting was stiff because I prefer the more lively impressionism à la Monet, Renoir, Manet and Van Gogh. Now I have appreciated Pointillism more and more. Can you imagine Seurat and Signac painted their works dot by dot? In doing so they also succeeded in applying the light.
Here are some of their masterpieces.
Georges Seurat (Paris 2 December 1859 – Paris 29 March 1891)
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte) oil on canvas 207.6 cm × 308 cm. Collection of Art Institute Chicago. It took Seurat 2 years to paint this, from 1884–1886. It is his most famous painting.
Bathers at Asnières (Une Baignade, Asnières) oil on canvas 201 cm × 301 cm 1884. Collection of National Gallery of London. This painting depicts bathers on a Seine riverbank in Asnières in the summer. Asnières is a little town situated 4 km from Paris. Across this Seine river bank is La Grande Jatte, a little island where Seurat painted the previous painting.
The bridge at Coubervoie (Ponte à Coubervoie) oil on canvas 1887. 46,4 × 53,3 cm. Collection of Courtauld Institute Galleries, London.
Circus (Le Cirque), oil on canvas 1891 185 × 152 cm. Collection of Musée d’Orsay, Paris. This is Seurat’s last painting, in 1890 – 1891 which remains unfinished until his death in 1891 at 31 years old. This is part of the Circus painting series consists of this painting and two others; The circus show (Parade) and The Can-can (Le Chahut).
Paul Signac (Paris 11 November 1863 – Paris 15 August 1935)
The Grand Canal in Venice (Le Grand Canal à Venise), oil on canvas 73.5 × 92.1 cm. Collection of Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio USA. I adore this painting; the dots, the pinkish tones of the golden hour and the composition.
Antibes the Towers, oil on canvas 66 x 82,3 cm 1911. Collection of Albertina, Vienna.
Sunday (Dimanche), oil on canvas 150 × 150 cm 1888 – 1890. Private collection. Like Seurat’s first painting in this post, Signac finished this one in two years. Both Seurat and Signac used ocre yellowish tones with strong black features in their late years. This painting resemble Seurat’s works of Circus series, they are darker than their works in the early years.
Two Milliners in the Rue du Caire (Deux stylistes rue du Caire), oil on canvas 111,8 × 89 cm 1885 – 1886. Collection of Foundation EG Bührle, Zurich.
Seurat and Signac were good friends. It was Seurat who influenced Signac to use pointilism technique. Both of them together with Albert Dubois-Pillet and Odilon Redon were founders of The Société des Artistes Indépendants (Society of Independent Artists), Salon des Indépendants. The society of independent, non governement-sponsored artists.
Looking at these masterpieces and comparing them to pixels in modern photo editing software makes me adore Signac and Seurat more and more. While today we can erase or apply dots of colours with a mouse click, they did it by hand. Chapeau!
All paintings are taken from WikiCommons licensed under Public Domain