warning: a lesson in art history follows (:
One of my favorite works of art is A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Last summer while visiting Ashley in Chicago I ventured out one day by myself while she was at work…of course the Art Institute of Chicago was my first stop. I give you full permission to call me a nerd, but I love museums, especially those chock-full of art.
I had just completed my second art history course at Carolina that spring and knew several of the works I had studied were currently being housed at AIC. Little did I know. As I wondered from one gallery to the next I couldn’t help but smile like a kid in a toy store. I’m positive people around me were thinking “look at that crazy girl all by herself and what is with that goofy smile?”
And then it happened. I rounded a corner to enter the hall of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism and stopped dead in my tracks. With my mouth gaping wide open for all the world to see, I stood mesmerized by Seurat’s masterpiece.
I was not at all prepared for how BIG this work of art is—at nearly 7 ft by 10 ft, it consumed an entire wall. And while its size is indeed grand (pun intended), to truly understand the magnificence of Seurat’s work one must first understand his technique. An artist in the age of Impressionism, Seurat was enthralled with optical & color theory—specifically how one’s eye blends independent colors together to create what one perceives as a single color. From his studies, Seurat created a new painting technique now known as Pointillism in which small dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form a complete image.
As if I weren’t already in awe of Seurat’s work, I took a few steps closer and flipped out all over again; just as Pointillism dictates, the entire piece is composed of what seems like millions of tiny DOTS. And so I continued acting a little nutty, first moving closer to the painting & then further away, all the while watching as the tiny dots came into focus or blended together depending upon my distance.
No picture can do the original justice for it is only in getting as close as possible that one’s eyes can truly define each little dot of paint. I can’t begin to explain how insanely cool it was to experience La Grande Jatte up close and personal.
I wandered around the Impressionistic gallery for a solid hour more, stopping to marvel at La Grande Jatte every time I passed by, before I finally forced myself to move on through to the rest of the museum. To this day it is quite possibly one of the best hours I’ve ever had—again, call me a nerd all you like, I’m not ashamed.
I’ll save you from hearing me ramble on and on about this most magnificent experience and leave you instead with a few more of Seurat’s gorgeous works…thank me later!
have a splendid Sunday, M.