Georges Seurat's painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is currently being displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago in The Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection (also called A Sunday on La Grande Jatte). The painting is quite large in size, measuring around 10 x 7 feet and features a pure white wooden frame. Even though the painting is part of a collection, it feels as though it is the most important painting in the room due to its room placement and public popularity in the gallery. The painting is largely acclaimed to be the masterpiece of Seurat's career. I viewed the painting on Thursday, June 13th at around 6:00 p.m. since it was free admission into the Art Institute of Chicago from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Georges Seurat was only 26 when his piece was first exhibited in 1886 at the eighth annual and final Impressionist exhibition. The French painter took a different approach than that of the Impressionists before him, this arose immense controversy and sort of rebellion against traditional Impressionism. He painted tiny dots plotted along an invisible grid of vertical and horizontal lines that run parallel to the picture plane (Fiero, 376). Using this unorthodox technique of the time, he rivaled Nicolas Poussin who also used strict horizontal-and-vertical pictorial structure in his paintings (280). The painting also challenged some of the other Impressionist artists such as Édouard Manet and his paintings Olympia and Luncheon on the Grass (Brettell, 89).
[...] However, this idea was abandoned due to the complexity, magnitude, and the variety of figures in his masterpiece. Before actually painting the final version of Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Seurat began by visiting Grande Jatte Island in 1884. From there, the artist began a series of trial and error oil sketches and drafts which were vastly different from the final completed piece. He even went back to his painting years later to add in more complexity to the work. [...]
[...] I appreciate his thought of putting it there as a way to possibly “hold all of the tiny dots My appreciation of this piece is astounding and I could never dream of the amount of patience it must have taken to complete such a large work. If it weren't for the Impressionists, Seurat, and the Art Institute of Chicago, I would not have been able to experience such a stunning painting. Works Cited Amory, Dita. “Georges Seurat (1858-1891) and Neo-Impressionism.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art June 2013. [...]
[...] Web. Brettell, Richard. French Impressionists. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago and New York: Harry N. Abrams p 89-90. Print. Fiero, Gloria K. Landmarks in Humanities, 3rd Edition. New York: McGraw Hill Print. [...]
[...] The connection between Seurat and Poussin helps show this art style and its development. On another note, I personally love the tiny dots of composed mostly complementary colors and I love how it takes on sort of a gradient and such a peaceful and serene look. The light faded colors are somehow vibrant and the water takes on a reflective quality. I think that the water would have been the hardest part of this painting to accomplish with pointillism because it needs to have a reflective quality to it, which it does. [...]
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