A Lot Ought To Be Thought About Dots
November 27, 2007 3:19 PM   Subscribe

NYC's Museum of Modern Art hosts a Georges Seurat exhibition that focuses on sketchbooks kept by the master of pointillisme. Page through each sketchbook, which is not possible to do at the actual exhibition. Also featured are photos of conservation efforts, including microscopic views of Seurat's technique, and a discussion of his subject matter. Requires Flash, pages may load slowly. Different sections of site not directly linkable because of Flash format-- sorry!
posted by Rykey (9 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I like.

Of course every time I see these sorts of things, I wonder why my hands are too stupid to do even the most basic of sketches.

Oh well, would anyone like an awesome pecan pie? Could Seurat do that?
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:42 PM on November 27, 2007

I checked this out when I was at MoMa last week.

I can't say that I've ever been impressed by Seurat. I mean, I respect the OCD that must go into putting all of those little dots on the painting. It's just too bad that all he wanted to paint were boring-ass landscapes.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:46 PM on November 27, 2007

I appreciate the technical work that goes into a Seurat, but it's never done much for me. It seems more like a mechanical exercise than anything else, which precludes the emotion I get from a Van Gogh or Baziotes. YMMV.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:00 PM on November 27, 2007

Looks interesting from the site. After misjudging several times painters* and paintings based on books and other media, I form an opinion only when I see a painting live.

*The most embarrassing case was Lucian Freud. Pictures don't even begin to convey his creative oomph.
posted by ersatz at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2007

I think the freshness and the speed of his sketches really underscore the fact that for him pointellisme was a theoretical position. There is something really snap-shotty in some of these sketches.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:36 PM on November 27, 2007

Went to the opening for this show. Great pieces. Recommended.
posted by gcbv at 5:10 PM on November 27, 2007

The exhibition is great, partially because for his sketches -- instead of actually drawing dots, he utilizes the texture of the paper to facilitate the technique of pointillism.

It seems more like a mechanical exercise than anything else

Shakespherian, right on, but to my understanding that was Seurat's point -- to approach color from a scientific point of view, and to utilize color theory (which was popular at the time) to create a painting that was carefully structured and plotted.
posted by suedehead at 8:28 PM on November 27, 2007

Agree, ersatz.

One of the things that gets lost in all of the positive aspects of mass reproduction and virtual dissemination of artworks (and I believe the positive effects of enabling a wide range of people from across all cultures and class structures access to the documentation of artworks are monumental) is the importance of experiencing the concrete "objectness" of artwork. By this I mean not only a particular work's physical or material properties, but its "presence" in a given space and moment in time.

In order to fully appreciate any given piece of art (or not, as the case may be), the viewer is required to locate themselves in relation to the it. (The word "locate" being used not only in the "semiotics 101" sense, but more importantly in the physical).

When the dialog between art and viewer takes place only in the virtual world, and not in a shared physical space, something integral to the experience is lost. It's the difference between a conversation one has with a stranger while facing them, and an exchange that takes place across phone or cable lines.

Considering Seurat's somewhat clinical exploration of color theory, and his experiments with attempting to duplicate and manipulate the viewer's experience of color depth, reflecting light shimmer, the paintings by definition of what they attempt to accomplish would need to be seen in person to be considered complete. I did, however, enjoy virtually flipping through the notebooks. A lot of portfolio sites employ this convention for sketchbook pages, but the Moma generally does a great job with their site and this section is no exception.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2007

I'm afraid paintings and sculpture are accessible only to privileged subsets of the population. If you don't live in a museum-rich city or can't afford to travel and see these works of art live, you don't have the chance to appreciate them in their entirety, however good a reproduction you may have. Personally, I feel very lucky to be able to travel and visit museums. I love that stuff and I don't even try; I just have to begin browsing and the painters and sculptors demand my attention vocally.
posted by ersatz at 4:54 PM on November 28, 2007

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