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Artists Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat Photo

Georges Seurat

French Draftsman and Painter

Movements and Styles: Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism

Born: December 2, 1859 - Paris, France

Died: March 29, 1891 - Paris, France

Georges Seurat Timeline

Quotes

"Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science."
Georges Seurat
"Originality depends only on the character of the drawing and the vision peculiar to each artist."
Georges Seurat
"Painting is the art of hollowing a surface."
Georges Seurat
"Harmony is the analogy of contrary and similar elements of tone, of color, and of line, conditioned by the dominant key, and under the influence of a particular light, in gay, calm, or sad combinations."
Georges Seurat

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

Georges Seurat Signature

Synopsis

Georges Seurat is chiefly remembered as the pioneer of the Neo-Impressionist technique commonly known as Divisionism, or Pointillism, an approach associated with a softly flickering surface of small dots or strokes of color. His innovations derived from new quasi-scientific theories about color and expression, yet the graceful beauty of his work is explained by the influence of very different sources. Initially, he believed that great modern art would show contemporary life in ways similar to classical art, except that it would use technologically informed techniques. Later he grew more interested in Gothic art and popular posters, and the influence of these on his work make it some of the first modern art to make use of such unconventional sources for expression. His success quickly propelled him to the forefront of the Parisian avant-garde. His triumph was short-lived, as after barely a decade of mature work he died at the age of only 31. But his innovations would be highly influential, shaping the work of artists as diverse as Vincent Van Gogh and the Italian Futurists, while pictures like Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte (1884) have since become widely popular icons.

Key Ideas

Seurat was inspired by a desire to abandon Impressionism's preoccupation with the fleeting moment, and instead to render what he regarded as the essential and unchanging in life. Nevertheless, he borrowed many of his approaches from Impressionism, from his love of modern subject matter and scenes of urban leisure, to his desire to avoid depicting only the 'local', or apparent, color of depicted objects, and instead to try to capture all the colors that interacted to produce their appearance.
Seurat was fascinated by a range of scientific ideas about color, form and expression. He believed that lines tending in certain directions, and colors of a particular warmth or coolness, could have particular expressive effects. He also pursued the discovery that contrasting or complementary colors can optically mix to yield far more vivid tones that can be achieved by mixing paint alone. He called the technique he developed 'chromo-luminism', though it is better known as Divisionism (after the method of separating local color into separate dots), or Pointillism (after the tiny strokes of paint that were crucial to achieve the flickering effects of his surfaces).
Although radical in his techniques, Seurat's initial instincts were conservative and classical when it came to style. He saw himself in the tradition of great Salon painters, and thought of the figures in his major pictures almost as if they were figures in monumental classical reliefs, though the subject matter - the different urban leisure pursuits of the bourgeois and the working class - was fully modern, and typically Impressionist.
In Seurat's later work he left behind the calm, stately classicism of early pictures like Bathers at Asnières, and pioneered a more dynamic and stylized approach that was influenced by sources such as caricatures and popular posters. These brought a powerful new expressiveness to his work, and, much later, led him to be acclaimed by the Surrealists as an eccentric and a maverick.

Biography

Georges Seurat Photo

Childhood

Georges Seurat was born in Paris December 2, 1859, the youngest of three children. His father, Chrysostome-Antoine Seurat, was a bailiff; his mother, Ernestine Faivre, came from a prosperous family that had produced several sculptors. Seurat's eccentric father had already retired with a small fortune by the time Seurat was born, and he spent most of his time in Le Raincy, some 12 kilometers from the comfortable family home in Paris. The young Seurat lived with his mother, his brother Émile, and his sister Marie-Berthe.

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Georges Seurat Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Georges Seurat
Interactive chart with Georges Seurat's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Pierre Puvis de ChavannesPierre Puvis de Chavannes
Jean-Auguste-Dominique IngresJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Nicolas PoussinNicolas Poussin
Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix

Personal Contacts

Felix FeneonFelix Feneon
Camille PissarroCamille Pissarro
Claude MonetClaude Monet
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism

Influences on Artist
Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
Years Worked: 1874 - 1891
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Henri de Toulouse-LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Bridget RileyBridget Riley

Personal Contacts

Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
Paul SignacPaul Signac

Movements

Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
PointillismPointillism
Op ArtOp Art

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