Georges Seurat is considered a revolutionary in the art world and is most often remembered for his work in divisionism or chromoluminarism. His style defined the Neo-Impressionist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Seurat believed that by carefully selecting and arranging colors, he could create new depth and vibrancy in his paintings. Through his studies of the color wheel, Seurat discovered that by placing dots of contrasting colors side by side, the colors appeared more vibrant and were better able to characterize light on the canvas.
Armed with this knowledge, Seurat set out to create a new type of painting that would use color to create specific moods and depths in his images. His efforts culminated in the creation of Pointillism, a unique painting technique in which small dots of color are arranged to be viewed from afar and merge together in the eye, producing unprecedented luminosity and brilliance.
Georges Seurat’s Early Life
On December 2, 1859, Georges-Pierre Seurat was born in Paris, France. His father, Antoine Chrysostome Seurat, was a wealthy property speculator, and his mother, Ernestine Faivre Seurat, was Parisian. He had a sister and brother, who his mother primarily raised because his father lived in Le Raincy and would visit them only once a week.
He was enrolled in ‘École Municipale de Sculpture et Dessin’ in 1885 and was taught by sculptor Justin Lequien. In 1878 he attended ‘École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where Henri Lehman taught him. The school’s traditional teaching methods focused on drawing from old sculptures or imitating works done by other artists. However, Seurat’s natural talent and eye for detail helped him develop his unique style quickly.
In 1879, Serat attended Brest Military Academy for one year. After returning to Paris, he moved in with his friend Aman-Jean. By that time, he started perfecting his monochrome drawing technique. Some of Georges Seurat’s drawings of that period are still on display today.
The Development of Pointillism
About Georges Seurat painter, he was always interested in finding new ways to create more realistic images. In the late 1800s, he developed the Pointillist technique, which was designed to mimic how the human eye perceives color. To create a pointillist painting, Seurat would first paint an image using tiny dots of color.
Bystanders would often be surprised to discover that, from a distance, the dots would blend to create highly lifelike images. Seurat’s pointillism paintings were hugely successful and defined the Neo-Impressionist movement. However, Pointillism was much different than impressionist techniques in that it called for a more scientific approach to color and space.
Seurat is also credited with developing the ideas of divisionism, also known as Chromoluminarism. The method is similar to Pointillist painting but can be distinguished by cube-like brushstrokes that emphasize color separation to create maximum luminescence on the canvas. If you want to understand the Neo-Impressionist movement, check Georges Saurat’s drawings.
While the Impressionists focused on the harmony of colors based on similar or related hues (only partially separated), the Neo-Impressionist movement was based on contrasting hues, pitted one against the other; resulting in a vibrating mélange Optique.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
In 1884, Seurat began work on his famous painting A Sunday Afternoon at the Island of La Grande Jatte. The piece of Georges Seurat’s artwork masterpiece showcased members from each social class participating in various parks activities. Art historians suggest that the blending of the dots nodded that they were all linked together, regardless of their social statuses.
The ten-foot-wide mural took him over two years to complete and established Georges Seurat, painter, as a force in the art world. Seurat created over 60 studies during the process of creating the piece. A smaller version is currently part of the collection at The Art Institute of Chicago, where the full painting is also permanently displayed.
The work has had a notable influence on popular culture. For example, it served as the inspiration for the musical Sunday in the Park with George by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. It was also symbolically included in John Hughes’s classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
La Parade de Cirque
George Seurat’s final important projects before his untimely death in 1891 were two large-scale paintings featuring Paris nightlife. The first, “La Parade de Cirque.” However, George Seurat’s artwork was on a new level.
The work depicts figures outdoors at a sideshow under artificial light. It was Seurat’s first painting of nighttime entertainment in Paris. He worked on similar themes for six years before completing the final picture.
La Parade de Cirque was exhibited at the Salon in 1888 and was not well received. It was one of his least popular pieces, although art historians consider it among his most important works due to its formality and symmetry.
Le Chahut (meaning uproar in French) is an oil painting on canvas by Georges Seurat. The painting depicts a group of people dancing in a cabaret setting. It’s a perfect example of his use of Pointillism and is noted for its use of light and shadow.
The painting, finished in 1889, is a colorful and energetic portrait of the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. Again, Saurat’s pointillism technique is on full display; The result is a painting full of life and movement, capturing the excitement of the Moulin Rouge.
The piece has a sense of movement, energy, and vibrancy that’s difficult to overstate. Today, Le Chahut is considered one of Seurat’s most iconic paintings and forever changed the landscape of modernism. Today, the artwork is regarded as one of the most incredible works of French art.
Inspirational French Artist
Georges Seurat artworks had a profound effect on the development of French art, and his revolutionary techniques were adopted by many other artists, including Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent Van Gogh. Today, Seurat is rightfully considered one of the most important French painters of the 19th century, and his work still inspires artists all over the world.