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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Georges Seurat, 1884
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Georges Seurat is known as the father of Neo-Impressionism thanks to his invention of Pointillism (although he preferred the term Divisionism). Born into a wealthy Parisian family, he had a traditional training at the École des Beaux-Arts. After completing his military service in 1880, and free from financial concerns, he spent two years crafting a highly sensitive style of tonal drawing in conté crayon. Next came his fascination with the latest developments in scientific colour theory, out of which came his use of ‘optical mixture’. Tiny separated strokes of pigment were placed alongside each other, producing a powerful colour vibration when fused together in the eye of the viewer. Although Bathers, Asnières (1883-4) was his first major experiment using this technique, La Grande Jatte (1884-6) saw him perfect it. Despite his early death aged only 31, his innovation had created a vital aesthetic bridge between nineteenth century Impressionism and twentieth century Modernism.

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