Monday, April 16, 2012

A Point About Georges Seurat

"Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science." ~ Georges Seurat

Shall we get straight to the point today? We are talking about Georges Seurat. He was a French painter. He was born on December 2, 1859 and he revolutionized the art scene with his new fangled approach to art called Pointillism. In his short 31 years on the planet, he painted over 60 canvases, filled many sketchbooks full of drawings and was instrumental in ushering in Neo-Impressionism. Sadly, he passed away March 29, 1891, but left behind some of the most impressive examples of artwork that exemplified his interest in colour, linear movement, and indeed the science behind art as a whole.

Bathers at Asnières
So what exactly is pointillism and how did Seurat introduce it to the world? While Seurat was encouraged to pursue his artistic interests via relatives, and attended the École des Beaux-Arts from 1878-1879, it wasn't until he struck out on his own that his art blossomed. He discovered the Impressionist painters of the day and realized that he did not have to be limited by rigid academic dictates. It was at this point that he began studying colour, light and began experimenting with tiny brush strokes that evoked a bigger picture when looked at from afar.

The Gardener
In fact, the more that Seurat studied the science behind vision and colour, the more he developed his own style. He used tiny dots of colour, to form his paintings and in such a way added immense depth to his canvases. By 1884, he helped to found the Société des Artistes Indépendants, with artists such as Maximilien Luce and Paul Signac. Signac was to become a good friend of Seurat's and ultimately followed in his artistic footsteps. By the time the two artists exhibited their work in Brussels in 1887, alongside other artists who were also using a pointillist style, they decided to form a new group and called themselves Neo-Impressionists.

Young Woman Powdering Herself
While Seurat continued to paint, disagreements between members of the newly formed Neo-Impressionist movement soon found him withdrawing from the formal group. He met Madeleine Knobloch in 1889 and became smitten with the young, simple woman (who is the model for Young Woman Powdering Herself). The two had a child together, but Seurat suddenly became ill shortly thereafter. He left an unfinished painting ("Circus"), as his last piece before his death. His infant son died shortly thereafter, probably of the same illness (unproven, but quite possibly their deaths due to diptheria). What was not lost though, was a new style of painting that influenced the likes artists to come, such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Lautrec.

Budding Artists hopes to influence a whole new generation of artists this Saturday April 21st at the London Farmer's Market during our weekly children's art workshop. Georges Seurat will be our Master Artist to explore, as children learn a little art history, have a lot of fun and get to bring home their very own Seurat-inspired artwork made by themselves. Workshops are held at 10:30am and 1pm and run for 90 minutes, so register today to make sure your child gets to enjoy artwork with a point.

I offer you a moment to enjoy and explore one of Seurat's most famous paintings "La Grande Jatte", set to music. Can you remember what movie this famous picture was featured in and who got lost in the little girls face?

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