Discuss the intent in George Seurat "Sunday  Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Seurat's major motivation in this painting was to highlight his use of pointillism.  The belief behind it was to suggest that the modern setting is comprised of individual singularities that can merge with one another to form a greater entity.  In this case, Seurat's desire to represent the day in the park combined with his experimental technique of pointillism, where standard brush strokes were tossed way for the notion of singular dots.  The arrangement of the dots as well as his playing around with color makes one feel that they are seeing a portrait of the people in the park.  Yet, Seurat's real genius was to be able to suggest that just like the individuals in the park that help compose the reality of the painting, each has an individual identity that contributes to the larger understanding.  The people in the park are akin to the points that comprise them.  In this idea, Seurat was able to link up method and message into one stunningly powerful portrait.  The use of small dots and "optical unification" make for a vision whereby the individual is compelled to examine both individual and specific components as well as the totalizing vision and examine which is more meaningful on an aesthetic level, while simultaneously conceding that both are needed for a full appreciation of the painting and what Seurat sought to do with it.

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