Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884, oil on canvas, 1884-86
(Art Institute of Chicago)
Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker
View this painting up close in the Google Art Project
I’m actually shocked to find out that A Sunday on La Grande Jatte is so large; I had always envisioned it being so tiny. On another note, the speakers suggest that the figures in the painting are all bourgeoisie, but I beg to differ. The man in the bottom left hand corner sticks out like a sore thumb with his muscle shirt and as I examine the figures more so it seems that there are lower, middle and upper class people depicted. I’m just wondering if Seurat was influenced by the Communist Manifesto that had came out 30 years prior. One could read this work from a Marxist perspective, making a statement about the isolation of proletariat by the bourgeoisie (which is evident in the lack of lower class people on the Island).
It's interesting how the popular reputation of a painting precedes it. I was shocked, for example, to learn that the Mona Lisa was much smaller than I thought, about the size of a locker-poster.
I thought the opening quote was very fitting. Seurat was indeed a scientist with color. When I first looked at this painting, I thought it was literally about a Sunday afternoon with people watching the boats. Instead, it's about the color composition and the optical experience that Seurat was so successful, yet organized about. He didn't need to mix up red and blue to achieve a
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Seurat and the Making of La Grade Jatte (Art Institute of Chicago)
Seurat in the Google Art Project
Georges Seurat: The Drawings (The Museum of Modern Art)
Georges Seurat and Neo-Impressionism (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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