Seurat’s New Viewpoint on Pointillism

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For French Impressionist Painter George Seurat, the standard painting styles simply weren’t good enough. For him to achieve his artistic visions, something would have to change, and he would take it upon himself to make that change.

When he lived, the scientific movement was moving to the forefront of humankind, taking over all previous modalities of cultural control such as religion and monarchism. It was this movement that Seurat would turn to for his inspiration.

He created a new style of painting known as Pointillism as a result. In Seurat’s mind, its scientific approach and mathematical basis would significantly improve the avenue of art, especially in respect to the aspects of color coordination and encapsulating emotion.

A New Way of Painting

Originally, George Seurat painter, was trained in the conventional academic way of 19th-century art students, painting, sculpting, and drawing copies of the works of the old masters. After this, he spent two years mastering the style of monochrome drawing and is one of the few famed artists noted for producing works with Colored crayons.

These studies and Seurat’s interest in color, in particular, would be the building blocks for developing his pointillist approach. For it would be this focus on color and tones that would be the foundations for his new style.

Seurat’s vision would be born using colored dots instead of traditional brush strokes and smooth simplified textures instead of rich detail. Hints of his neoclassical training would remain, though, as the figures in his paintings remained sculptural and statuesque, which only added to Seurat’s artistic flair.

The Objective of Pointillism

Pointillism’s ultimate goal is to amplify and expand the vibrancy of color and achieve a greater level of detail and contrast using contrasting tones of the same color, dotted close together to create the impression of shade and depth.

By using dots instead of brushstrokes, the artist could, in theory, produce a more technical portrayal of the scene in which they painted. The achieved result would also lead to a greater embodiment of the emotion behind the scene that the artist wished to convey.

This might be what Seurat truly wished to accomplish on a philosophical level. True art is supposed to invoke feelings that cannot be expressed in words, and Seurat believed that the secret to these feelings and emotions was to be defined within the color itself.

More Than Meets the Eye

In this belief that color holds the key to emotions, Seurat would define his Pointillist painting style. Furthermore, Pointillism is particularly interesting because it relies on the viewer’s eyes and mind to blend the colored dots to form a more extraordinary image.

Seurat might have achieved his goal by using a technique involving the viewer’s level of involvement. However, Pointillism utilizes the part of the viewer’s brain that turns images into forms; it also activates the part of the brain that reacts and emotion out of the form.

By doing so, the painting is perceived on a deeper, more subconscious level, and if this is indeed the case, then it is absolutely genius. Whether Seurat truly intended this or not is open for debate, but there can be no question that he achieved an incredible synergy between modern scientific practices and the ancient primal instincts that lay deep within us.

Mathematically Minded

George Seurat might not have been the first artist to look at a painting as a mathematical equation or scientific problem to be solved. Still, he was undoubtedly the first to adopt it into his paintings wholeheartedly.

It could even be argued that Pointillism itself is a scientific device rather than a variant painting technique. It is almost as if Seurat used the science of quantum physics and its theory of how atoms form matter to form his paintings.

This scientific and mathematical approach to painting, accompanied by the theory of color and color contrast, would result in Seurat successfully paving the way for a new style of painting that would soon become known as Neo-Impressionism.

A New Way and A New Wave

Seurat’s theories, alongside his beautiful paintings, would captivate many of his contemporaries and competitors. This would lead to the emergence of a whole new movement in the world of art at the time.

This new way of painting and thinking would soon bring a whole new wave of artists and ideas. As a result, the late 19th century alone would see more original and unique works of art than many of the previous centuries combined.

Neo-Impressionism truly took the art scene by storm, and before long, it became the primary style of the times. However, it would also lay the groundwork for many other styles to blossom, such as Cubism and Abstractism. It has also been credited as a pivotal driving force for the modern art movement that would soon follow.

The Bottom Line

Although Pointillism isn’t used as much today and may have since been outgrown, its impact and influence cannot be understated. George Seurat’s artwork and Pointillist principles shook up the time in which he lived and paved the way for the freedom of ideas and artistic expression that is enjoyed today. You should check out his drawings the next chance you get.

Also Read: Créatif: A Place where Art Meets Technology



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