A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Pierre Seurat is one of the most influential paintings in art history. It is depicting an afternoon landscape of a park with numerous picnickers appearing to watch sailboats on the water. It features simple lines, vivid colors, and detailed accuracy of light and shadow.
The work exudes a feeling of harmony, not only in colors and form, but in the scene itself. While it is quite deliberately a mundane scene of a typical Paris afternoon, it carefully portrays all ages and social classes, coexisting peacefully.
Using complementary or contrasting base colors in tiny increments, instead of mixing the desired shade of paint, the desired color blending would appear to the naked eye. This was believed to be more reflective of a real world experience, and therefore incite a more intuitive response from the viewer. However, this scientific approach to art and emotion was quite controversial at the time.
The meticulous care, smooth lines, and realistic colors of this painting, and the Neo-impression style were not well-received at the time. It was criticized as too mechanical, in contrast to the spontaneity and rough brush strokes of the impressionist movement that dominated the art world at the time.
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