Let’s resume our journey on modern art history by exploring Pointillism. Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat and Paul Signac developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. So some of these painters we have already met briefly in Impressionism. But today we’ll focus more on their Pointillism works.
The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works of these artists, and is now used without its earlier mocking connotation. Neo-impressionism and Divisionism are also terms used to describe this technique of painting.
The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones. It is related to Divisionism, a more technical variant of the method. Divisionism is concerned with color theory, whereas pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint. It is a technique with few serious practitioners today, and is notably seen in the works of Seurat, Signac and Cross.
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 (blue), Magenta (red), 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 partly because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots. The painting technique used for pointillist color mixing is at the expense of the traditional brushwork used to delineate texture. The majority of pointillism is done in oil paints. Anything may be used in its place, but oils are preferred for their thickness and tendency not to run or bleed.
Notable Pointillism Artists include:
- Georges Seurat
- Paul Signac
- Henri-Edmond Cross
- Charles Angrand
- John Roy
- Maximilien Luce
- Vincent van Gogh
- Camille Pissarro
- Théo van Rysselberghe
- Chuck Close
- Georges Lemmen
Hope you enjoyed our short journey through pointillism and are willing to explore more the individual artists!
In the meantime i’d love to hear what you think of pointillism comparing to the traditional impressionism as a movement, and which of the above artists were the more influential in your opinion?
See you next time!
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