Pointillism

The Pointillism movement came after Impressionism in the early 1800's. Paul Signac and Georges Seurat in the 1880's were the major players in the pointillism technique and were responsible for the movement. Pointillism is the use of small dots of pure color, either from the CMYK spectrum (red, yellow, blue, and black) or RGB (red, green, blue), applied in a pattern to form an image out of only dots. The colors are not blended before they are applied. Instead, the dots are placed directly on top or next to each other which creates complementary or contrasting colors that are blended in the viewer's mental visualization. The viewer's eyes blend the dots, creating a wider range of colors. There are several variations of how an artist expresses their style of pointillism but this gallery will focus on the two men, Georges-Pierre Seurat and Paul Signac, who had major roles in creating the movement and their application of pointillism.

Seurat was able to show the world his innovative method which is known as pointillism. The most prominent quality in this painting is the use of repetitive and small patterned dots, use of only primary colors, and light. Seurat applied his theory on color and how color shouldn't be blended. The use of dots and patterning shows the level of intelligence required and the amount of preparation the artist has to take before beginning the piece. The way Seurat framed this work with tiny dots makes the colors inside the work appear even more vivid. With contrasting colors, Seurat is able to convey light with the overcast skies, distance from the viewer's position to the sailboat, the shine reflecting off the water. The buildings in the middle-left of the painting are hazy, creating depth. The white values appear brighter and lighter because of the frame on the edge of the painting. This painting is from a series Seurat created when he was at the French coastline.
With the recent invention of paint tubes, it was popular at the time to paint outdoors, "en plen air" so pointillism has a tendency to gravitate towards landscapes, outdoor settings, waterways and fields. 7' tall and 10' wide, this painting is enormous and envelopes the viewer's peripheral vision when one's perpendicular with the painting. This is one of Seurat's most famous works. This piece encompasses many pointillist qualities. Seurat shows his trained focus on use of color, form, and light. This painting is credited with starting the pointillism movement. Notice how light is used in this painting. Seurat creates the shadowy appearance by creating a stark contrast between the shadowed and unshadowed grass. Almost every figure has some kind of shadow from trees, hats, umbrellas or other figures. The frame of red and blue dots at the edge of the painting provides a direct contrast to the figures next to it, creating vibrancy and brilliancy. The dots are almost of uniform size and varies only in color. This famous painting would set the tone for pointillism and future works for Seurat.
"Gasometers at Clichy" is Paul Signac's first painting that employed the pointillism technique. New to pointillism, Signac modeled his work after Seurat's use of dots with only pure color and in this case, he used only red, green, and blue. The viewer is also able to see how Signac created a very detailed level of patterned dots of color to create figures when viewed at a distance. When one looks at this work closely, the viewer is able to see the layers, level of detail and organization required to create a range of values using only pure color that complement or contrast each other. The setting is in Clichy, the northwestern suburbs in Paris, France, where Signac used to live.
This is one of Seurat's last paintings before he died at 31 years old from illness. Like previous paintings, this painting has an emphasis on using patterned small dots, color, and light. The brightness of the blue water is balanced by the light red walkway and the white divider acts like a transition between both contrasts. The painting, as a whole, has a bright light to it. One can almost feel the sun shining down, the breeze blowing, the quiet chatter from the boaters, and the warm air .
Signac's refinement and fluency in the application of pointillism is apparent here when compared to the earlier painting, "Clichy". Pointillism is clearly the primary focus of this painting. Ripples in the water is created by varying intensity and the concentration of blue dots and the canvas showing through. The shore has a sandy quality to it and appears grainy, just how sand is. The color is intense and bright, creating light. Signac is able to create that "French" light that is seen in other paintings as well.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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