Georges Seurat

Dates1859 - 1891
BornParis, France
DiedParis, France

From a well-off family, Georges Seurat did his first professional training in 1878 at the École des Beaux-Arts under a pupil of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. He exhibited once at the Salon but more frequently in the Salon des Indépendants and with Les XX in Brussels. Despite his reclusive habits, Seurat helped to establish a Post-Impressionist group in 1887.

Seurat was looking for "something new, an art entirely my own." By studying the science and aesthetics of perception, light, and color, he attempted systematically to re-create nature's luminosity. In the technique he preferred to call "divisionism," Seurat juxtaposed touches of unmixed color for "optical" mixing by the viewer's retina. "[L]et the hand be numb, but let the eye be agile, perspicacious, cunning," wrote critic Félix Fénéon, calling the technique "pointillism," a term Seurat hated. From 1886 on, Seurat explored scientific theories for visually evoking emotions.

In his Conté crayon drawings, Seurat renounced line in favor of large, velvety masses of dark merging into areas of mid-tone and luminous highlights created by blank paper.