- Arts and Design
Georges-Pierre Seurat - French Neoimpressionist Artist
Artist Georges-Pierre Seurat was born on December 2, 1859 in Paris, France. He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1878 to 1879. He also attended Brest Military Academy in 1879.
After he left school, Seurat concentrated on perfecting his craft through mastering black and white drawings. In 1884, Seurat helped form the Societe des Artistes Independants with a group of fellow artists. He is considered to be the father of neo-impressionism.
Seurat’s most famous painting is Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette which highlights the technique of pointillism. The technique uses points of color rather than the blending of colors to get the effect the artist desires. The painting is 10 feet wide and took Seurat two years to complete; it was completed in 1884. This painting features so much detail that it can be viewed for hours and elements will still be missed. The painting is now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. The original owners paid $22,000 for it and donated their collection to the Art Institute.
Seurat became involved with one of his models which resulted in the birth of his son Georges in February of 1890. She also became pregnant with another baby who was born after Seurat had died; the baby died at birth.
Seurat died of what is believed to have been diphtheria on March 29, 1891; his son Georges died of the same disease two weeks later.
The lines below is an excerpt from the poem Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon along the Seine by Delmore Schwartz. One poet’s interpretation of the people in the painting:
Seurat's Sunday Aftemoon along the Seine
By Delmore Schwartz
they looking at? Is it the river?
The sunlight on the river, the summer, leisure,
Or the luxury and nothingness of consciousness?
A little girl skips, a ring-tailed monkey hops
Like a kangaroo, held by a lady's lead
(Does the husband tax the Congo for the monkey's keep?)
The hopping monkey cannot follow the poodle dashing ahead.
Everyone holds his heart within his hands:
a pledge of grace or gratitude
A devout offering to the god of summer, Sunday and plenitude.
The Sunday people are looking at hope itself.
looking at hope itself, under the sun, free from the teething
anxiety, the gnawing nervousness
Which wastes so many days and years of consciousness.
who beholds them, beholding the gold and green
Of summees Sunday is himself unseen. This is because he is
Dedicated radiance, supreme concentration, fanatically threading
The beads, needles and eyes-at oncel-of vividness and permanence.
He is a saint of Sunday in the open air, a fanatic disciplined
By passion, courage, passion, skill, compassion, love: the love of life
and the love of light as one, under the sun, with the love of life.
from SELECTED POEMS: SUMMER KNOWLEDGE(Copyright ©1959 by Delmore Schwartz.