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L’inventore dei puntini: Georges Seurat

The inventor of the dots: Georges Seurat

Georges-Pierre Seurat was born on December 2, 1859 in Paris.

His father Antoine leaves the profession of lawyer and devotes himself to gardening, collecting religious paintings and going to Mass on Sundays in his private chapel.


Georges' uncle is a painter for pleasure, he is unsuccessful, but he fascinates his nephew and little Seurat decides that he wants to study painting and become an artist.

Seurat enrolled in the municipal drawing school. He likes the paintings of Raphael and Ingres, which are unattainable for him.

He studies seriously and conscientiously, but he has no particular talent.


On the other hand, he is interested in and reads all the theoretical writings on painting: from Leonardo da Vinci's treatise to Charles Blanc's "Grammar of the Art of Drawing" and the essay by chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.


He visits the fourth exhibition of the Impressionists at the Salon and decides that academic teaching is not for him and opens an atelier with two friends.

Free from rules, he can experiment with the theories he reads in books and put them into practice.


Inspiration, expression, sensitivity, passion are feelings foreign to him. He writes that, since all the rules are inherent in nature, it is enough to identify the scientific principles. In art everything must be wanted.


Entirely absorbed in his theories, George Seurat invents a precise style that responds to his scientific needs: pointillism.

It breaks down the color and recomposes it through the combination of primary colors that recreate the final color directly in the eye, on the retina.


In a period that has elected science and progress to new idols, Seurat's painting arouses interest.

But from an expressive point of view, things are far from good.


Dot painting is very long and nerve-wracking. For his most famous painting (A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande-Jatte Island) Seurat takes three years.

The figures are cold, woody, impersonal and it looks more like an intellectual game than painting.


When other painters experiment with pointillism, Seurat is not happy, but is afraid that they will "steal" the birthright of the idea, as if they were taking away a scientific patent from him. For him the exact name of this style is not pointillism, but “chrome-luminism”.


Just as photography had brought precision to the reproduction of landscapes and human figures, so too painting had to abide by the laws of science.


For many reasons the painters who had adhered to this style change their mind and, among all, the great and famous Pizzarro who writes: “I was not made for this art, which gives me the feeling of a deadly leveling”.


Seurat is young and does not lose heart. He wants to start studying how to give movement to the figures he paints.


But fate chose differently: a flu (the exact diagnosis was never known) kills him at the age of 31, also taking his son away two weeks later.


He himself pronounced the sentence that defines it best: “Some say they see poetry in my paintings. I only see science in you. "


Andrea Giuseppe Fadini

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