'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte', Georges Seurat, 1884-86
Georges Seurat (1859-1891) was a neo-Impressionist French painter who made a great impression on modern art. His most famous work, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is one of the most famous examples of pointillism, where a picture is created out of contrasting miniature dots of colour. Seurat studied colour, light and form and focused much of his work on A Sunday Afternoon in a careful study of the park landscape. It is one of the rare works-of-art that is almost instinctively recognized and has become an often used choice of backgrounds en everything from computers to iPods. A Sunday Afternoon depicts an everyday scene of Parisians enjoying a local park in the afternoon. Seurat was only 25 when he produced this painting, a young artist trying to prove the scientific theory that painting in dots would produce brighter, and more vivid colours than painting in brushstrokes could. Seurat painstakingly concentrated on the backdrop of the park landscape, while the people in the scene are portrayed as forms only, which no discernable personalities or emotions. Even though there is the suggestion of movement in the dogs running around, the people strolling in the park and the man playing his bugle, the overall impression is one of control and silence. The people are configured around the park in groups or pairs, but seem to be alone-but not lonely. Every person owns their space and every element of this painting coexists peacefully.