Georges-Pierre Seurat (December 2, 1859 – March 29, 1891) was a French painter and the founder of Neo-impressionism. His large work Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, his most famous painting, altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of 19th century painting. Seurat was born to a well-off family in Paris. His father was a legal official and a native of Champagne; his mother was Parisian. Seurat first studied art with Justin Lequien, a sculptor. Seurat attended the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of service at Brest military academy, he returned to Paris in 1880. He shared a small studio on the Left Bank with two student friends before moving to a studio of his own.
For the next two years he devoted himself to mastering the art of black and white drawing. He spent 1883 on his first major painting — a huge canvas titled Bathing at Asnières (see Asnières-sur-Seine). After his painting was rejected by the Paris Salon, Seurat turned away from such establishments, instead allying himself with the independent artists of Paris. In 1884 he and other artists (including Maximilien Luce) formed the Société des Artistes Indépendants. There he met and befriended fellow artist Paul Signac. Seurat shared his new ideas about pointillism with Signac, who subsequently painted in the same idiom. In the summer of 1884 Seurat began work on his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which took him two years to complete. Later he moved from the Boulevard de Clichy to a quieter studio nearby, where he lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch. In February 1890 she gave birth to his son. Shortly after his death, Madeleine gave birth to his second son, whose name is unknown.
The cause of Seurat's death is uncertain, and has been attributed to a form of meningitis, pneumonia, infectious angina, and/or diphtheria. His last ambitious work, The Circus, was left unfinished at the time of his death. Seurat took to heart the color theorists' notion of a scientific approach to painting. Seurat believed that a painter could use color to create harmony and emotion in art in the same way that a musician uses variation in sound and tempo to create harmony in music. Seurat theorized that the scientific application of color was like any other natural law, and he was driven to prove this conjecture. He thought that the knowledge of perception and optical laws could be used to create a new language of art based on its own set of heuristics and he set out to show this language using lines, color intensity and color schema. Seurat called this language Chromoluminarism. His letter to Maurice Beaubourg in 1890, captures his feelings about the scientific approach to emotion and harmony. He says 'Art is Harmony. Harmony is the analogy of the contrary and of similar elements of tone, of color and of line, considered according to their dominance and under the influence of light, in gay, calm or sad combinations'.
Seurat's theories can be summarized as follows: The emotion of gaiety can be achieved by the domination of luminous hues, by the predominance of warm colors, and by the use of lines directed upward. Calm is achieved through an equivalence/balance of the use of the light and the dark, by the balance of warm and cold colors, and by lines that are horizontal. Sadness is achieved by using dark and cold colors and by lines pointing downwards. The technical aspects of his work influenced the fauves, and his rigorous theoretical studies, the cubists.
Extracted from Wikipedia