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One City


This past Thursday I went to see the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George. Sadly it closed this weekend, but if you ever get the chance to see a production, you should seize the opportunity. It really is a beautiful piece. It’s about the painter George Seurat, who painted this:

A few years ago I was also lucky enough to get to see this painting at the Chicago Art Institute. It really is a sight to behold. It is approximately 6’8” x 10’10”. (That’s longer than 2 of me!) As memory serves me, this was only Seurat’s second painting, and like many other artistic geniuses, he never sold a piece in his lifetime.


Seurat was a pointillist pioneer. He made little dots and dabs of color on huge canvases instead of filling in areas with one color. If you look closely, no figure in the painting is a solid color. Take a look at this close-up of the little girl:

The shapes of color are made of tiny dots that are blended by the eye, not by the brush. Thus a purple flower is really a collection of blue and red dots. The whole is made up of tiny constituent parts that shimmer in the light. Without all of the other dots, the painting would not be the same.

Interdependence, anybody? Unsolid self? Maybe Seurat was a Buddhist! Who said that Broadway was dead?

Oh, and Seurat called his technique Chromoluminarism, or how the mind perceives the tiniest elements of juxtaposed colors. Just try saying that three times fast.

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posted June 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Thanks for your post – seriously. I’ve seen these images so many times that their complexity and beauty wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to me. Everything contains multitudes, as they say.

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Ethan Nichtern

posted July 1, 2008 at 7:34 am

that dude always was my favorite impressionist. I remember going to the Met when I was really young and thinking good old Georges blew those other french dudes away with his strokes.

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