modernism in art

late impressionism through surrealism



• SH essay, Impressionism as optical realism: Monet

• SH essay, Introduction to Neo-Impressionism, part 1

• SH essay Introduction to Neo-Impressionism, part  2

• SH essay, Neo-Impressionist color theory

• SH video, Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884

• selection from Signac, “From Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism” (primary source)

key terms and concepts: Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, local color, perceived color; primary color, secondary color; analogous colors, complementary colors; divisionism, optical mixture; (the law of) simultaneous contrast

As you are doing the readings and taking notes in class, be sure you can answer these questions:

• What is perceived color and how is it different from the local color of the object?

• How is Neo-Impressionism generally similar to Impressionism?  How is it different?

• Using the color terms above, be able to describe how the Neo-Impressionists attempted to make art more rigorously scientific, especially in their use of color, but also in their compositions and expressive qualities.  Specifically:

• Why did the Neo-Impressionists use only 'prismatic' colors? Why did they paint in tiny dots of these pure colors and rely on optical mixture to create more subtle color blends, and avoid mixing colors on their palettes?

• What did Signac mean when he called divisionism the key technique of Neo-Impressionism? How do the works below show Signac's and Seurat's recreation of the perceived colors of the scene through a careful separation of the effects of local color, the color temperature of the light, and reflected color or light?

• What are complementary colors and why did the Neo-Impressionists like to base their paintings in strong complementary contrasts such as blue and orange or red and green?

• What is the law of simultaneous contrast and how is it taken into account especially in Seurat's Study for The Models below?

• What did Signac describe as laws for creating expressive (emotional) effects in paintings using exclusively formal qualities (color, value, and line specifically)?

• We talked less about this, but how do Neo-Impressionist paintings show social class tensions, and how did Signac also describe Neo-Impressionism as politically as well as stylistically radical, in tune with the revolutionary Social Anarchist movement of several of the group were members?

All of these color terms and concepts will continue to be helpful in understanding other movements this semester as well, so be sure you have a good grasp of them.

Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of the Grande Jatte, Neo-Impressionism, 1884-86

Seurat, Study for The Models, Neo-Impressionism, 1886-88

Monet, Rouen Cathedral (two of dozens of different versions at different times of day), Impressionism, 1894

Signac, Harbor at San Tropez, Neo-Impressionism, 1895