Neoimpressionism, a term first used by the art
critic Felix Feneon in 1887, designates a style of painting created by Georges Seurat and Paul
Signac, who first exhibited their work in 1884 at the exhibition of the Societé des
Artistes Indépendents in Paris.
Sometimes called pointillism, but referred to by
its originators as divisionism, neoimpressionism developed out of Seurat's and Signac's
dissatisfaction with what they regarded as the formlessness and subjectivity of impressionism
(see also postimpressionism).
by Georges Pierre Seurat
Art Institute of Chicago
In search of a way to represent nature more
faithfully, Seurat studied optical science and aesthetic theory. His major masterpiece,
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-86; The Art Institute of Chicago)
best exemplifies the accomplishments of the divisionists, whose works are composed of tiny dots
of color scientifically chosen so as to blend into a single color when viewed from a distance.
The movement proved short-lived and had only a modest impact on painters of the day, although at
some point in their careers such major artists as Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh experimented
with the style.
Magdalena Dabrowski, Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
Source: The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #9.01, ©1997.
Bibliography: G. Denvir, Post-Impressionism (1992);
S.F. Eisenman, Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History (1994);
W.I. Homer, Seurat and the Science of Painting (1964; repr. 1985);
J. G. Hutton, Neo-Impressionism and the Search for Solid Ground (1994);
J. Sutter, ed., The Neo-Impressionists (1980).
Images: "Sunday Afternoon", Georges Pierre Seurat (Art Institute of Chicago).
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