Monday, 18 November 2013

Post-Impressionism: Pointillisme

As explained before, post-impressionism is a term to categorise a wide variety of artists post the impressionist era and represents the fast changing world that the artists lived in:

"The world has changed less since Jesus Christ than in the last 30 years"
- Charles Peguy, 1913.

One certain avenue some post-impressionists explored is 'pointillisme' or 'pointillism' in English. As the name may suggest, it is painting with points or otherwise dots. The practice is best represented by George Seurat and Paul Signac. The two took the term that was first coined in the 1880's by critics to mock artists that painted in a 'grainy' type of way; and used it for their own means without it's negative connotations and consequently made something positive out of it. Following the scientific guidelines by the colour theorist Odgen Wood they believed that allowing the viewer to mix the colours with their eyes (to merge the dots of primary and secondary colours) instead of mixing them on the palette resulted in a more intense experience for the viewer. This has since been scientifically disproved. 
"Colours are more intense when mixed optically by the eye rather than on the palette"
- Odgen Wood.

George Seurat (1859-91), Bathers at Asnieres, 1884.
This is absolutely massive and is in the National Gallery in London (brap brap). It's size would have suggested it's meant to be a history painting but in the days of the avant-garde they did what they waaaaaaanted. The brushstroke has been regularlised since the impressionists here, but the chiaroscuro has remained unimportant and things are looking increasingly cartoon-like. It is actually charged with social meaning although not obvious. The chimneys at the back are meant to represent the working class of whom came to be the biggest sect of society thanks to industrialisation. This is a change in itself seeing as the impressionists were all about the Bourgeousie.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Islands of La Grand Jatte, 1884.
This was actually exhibited at the last impressionist exhibition despite not being impressionist. So this has come to symbolise the death of impressionism. The mosaic of single dots and colours juxtaposed against eachother. 

Paul Signac, Portrait of M. Felix Feneon, 1890.
This has all the complementary colours and must be another example of imagery that paved the way for comics surely.

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