Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Seurat, Van Gogh, Pointillism and Neo-Impressionism


Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

This famous painting from 1886 uses “pointillism” which started the Neo-Impressionism movement, known for revolutionary expressions of color and light to create greater apparent luminosity:

Seurat and his followers tried to give their painting a scientific basis, by painting tiny dabs of primary colors close to each other to intensify the viewer's perception of colors by a process of optical mixing. This created greater apparent luminosity because the optical mixing of colors tends towards white, unlike mixing of paints on the palette which tends towards black and reduces intensity. Neo-impressionists also used more precise and geometric shapes to simplify and reveal the relationships between forms.

Diving deeper into Pointillism:

The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the traditional methods of blending pigments on a palette. Pointillism is analogous to the four-color CMYK printing process used by some color printers and large presses that place dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Televisions and computer monitors use a similar technique to represent image colors using Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colors.

If red, blue, and green light (the additive primaries) are mixed, the result is something close to white light. Painting is inherently subtractive, but Pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided, and because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots.

Another example of both, the famous self-portrait by Van Gogh, my favorite painter.