Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 2 – Georges Seurat: At the end of the 19th century, Asnieres resembled a seaside resort. The cheering crowd that came to attend the regattas animated the banks of the Seine, and the rowing club was always full. When he painted his canvas, Georges Seurat understood that his current era was totally turned towards a fascinating and ruthless religion: progress. Determined that art should not remain left out of these drastic changes underway, he invented pointillism.
This series explores history of art in a totally new way. The painting comes to life, as animation overrides the limits of the frame, taking us to the heart of the canvass and plunging us into its era and history. This series of 10 half-hour programs shows how a painted image echos the spirit of its time and relates to a particular historic event. It reveals the poetic, sociological and political potential of the picture by penetrating inside the painting and examine the underlining details, thanks to work of computer graphics which livens up characters, objects and sets.
Each film tells a fascinating story of a creator and the painting process. The great works of the past portray abundant testimonies, and are imbued with secrets and are teeming with mysteries. Beneath the surface of the painting, details awaken, to recount the spirit of the times and the vagaries of History, such as wars, revolutions, economic transformation, scientific discovery, beliefs and schools of thought.
Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 2 – Georges Seurat
Georges Pierre Seurat was a French post-Impressionist artist. He devised the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism and pointillism and used conté crayon for drawings on paper with a rough surface.
Seurat’s artistic personality combined qualities that are usually thought of as opposed and incompatible: on the one hand, his extreme and delicate sensibility, on the other, a passion for logical abstraction and an almost mathematical precision of mind. His large-scale work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886) altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-Impressionism, and is one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.
He spent 1883 working on his first major painting – a large canvas titled Bathers at Asnières, a monumental work showing young men relaxing by the Seine in a working-class suburb of Paris. Although influenced in its use of color and light tone by Impressionism, the painting with its smooth, simplified textures and carefully outlined, rather sculptural figures, shows the continuing impact of his neoclassical training; the critic Paul Alexis described it as a “faux Puvis de Chavannes”. Seurat also departed from the Impressionist ideal by preparing for the work with a number of drawings and oil sketches before starting on the canvas in his studio.
Bathers at Asnières was rejected by the Paris Salon, and instead he showed it at the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants in May 1884. Soon, however, disillusioned by the poor organization of the Indépendants, Seurat and some other artists he had met through the group – including Charles Angrand, Henri-Edmond Cross, Albert Dubois-Pillet and Paul Signac – set up a new organization, the Société des Artistes Indépendants. Seurat’s new ideas on pointillism were to have an especially strong influence on Signac, who subsequently painted in the same idiom.