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FAH245- Post Impressionism and the Science of Art

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University of Toronto St. George
Jordan Bear

- Seurat, Farm Women at Work (1882)  very early work by him  the seed of what is going to become a full blown impressionist painting style  they look like they are working in an assembly line instead of a field  horizontal lines divide the painting into a grid, clearly marked zones  picture shows the initial signs of what will become Seurat’s defining artistic technique: pointillism (turning painting into industrial symptoms of design) - Georges Seurat, Place de la Concorde, Winter (ca. 1882)  first impression, see it as impressionism, but when you look closer you see that there was planning going into the painting to create a more rigid structured painting  lamp posts all interest with horizontal striations, creating a grid of interlocking sectors of very strongly defined areas of composition - Seurat, Drawbridge in Paris (ca.1882)  repetition from lines of the drawbridge  mechanical movement of drawbridge that can be endlessly repeated in the same precise way every time - Seurat, Bathers at Asnieres (1883)  one of his great paintings  by the 1880’s the river Seine was a leisure space that didn’t require expendable capitol  the presence of industry is still here in the painting  a plume of smoke coming out of a tall chimney in the background, uses the same colours as he uses to make the skin of the bathers in the water  metaphorically and literally, look at the bathers as products of the industrial system  early example of pointillism, the imprecise arbitrary brushstrokes of impressionism have been totally replaced with a systematic science of colour juxtaposition, it is a style that is a rationalization, it is in itself a product of industrialization  visual repetition or echo of cascade of repeating arched forms  in the background there is a triangular form of the white sailboat that is mirrored in its own reflection in the water but also in the shape of the tree that is almost recoiling from it (obsessed repetition of geometric forms throughout the picture) The Source of Rationality: Industrial and Optical Science - colour/optical theory: colour wheel by Chevreul 1861, Seurat looks at books by modern chemists, begins to see in these scientific studies of how colour interacts a new mode of visual representation, adjacent colours draw our attention - Colour theory diagram, The Grammar of Painting and Engraving by Charles Blanc (1880s) - Seurat, Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte (1884-6)  most famous picture  all of the figures are either in profile or directly facing the viewer  pointillism picture, through his understanding of colour and colour perception, begins to produce a picture of teeny tiny dots of colour forming an overall picture  figures seem like robots/zombies, seem to be under some kind of spell  grass and trees look fake in their colour  Seurat could map out the colour juxtapositions on the canvas  think of this mode of production as the opposite of Monet, acting almost as a machine sitting there making his dots over and over again  Monet was attempting to capture the fleeting, momentary phenomenon in nature, Seurat gives a momentary freeze, where the source of the painting is from science and industry not nature - Seurat, Eiffel Tower (1889)  one of his most beautiful and important works  tower the great symbol of modernity, makes the painting before it is completed, tbe tower is still being constructed  an assembly of these different colours and how juxtaposing these different colors creates an impact for the viewer - Seurat, La parade de cirque (1888)  from the street perspective, a show that is being put on to attract spectators to see a circus performance that is occurring inside  herald about to make a proclamatio
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