What Is Pointillism?

What Is Pointillism?

Pointillism is a painting technique that uses small, distinct dots of color to create an image. In 1886, the technique was developed by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, who broke away from Impressionism.

How do you explain pointillism?

Developed by the French artist Georges Seurat, pointillism is a style of painting. A path or image is created by painting small dots on a surface and arranging them to make a larger pattern or dot pattern. It only involves a few basic materials, it's a great activity for anyone to try.

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Why do artists use pointillism?

The canvas or another material is covered in hundreds of tiny dots and dashes of pure color to achieve the highest possible degree of luminosity. Artists create art in this way to heavily influence the audience's view of the work by utilizing dots to color into a variety of tones.

Who is famous for pointillism?

Geoffrey Seurat

Is pointillism a well-known art form?

Yes, At Paris' Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Georges Seurat pioneered Pointillism. He refused Impressionism, a style of painting and color based on the subjective observations of the individual artist, in favor of a more scientific method that he established in 1884 and called Chromoluminarism, which he used in his paintings.

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The meaning of the term "pointillism"

In painting, pointillism is the method of applying mini-strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they appear to merge, and is also known as divisionism and chromo-luminarism.

Pointillism's origins

The Neo-Impressionists, unlike the Impressionists, experimented with paint application techniques to explore form and color. In 1886, French art critic Félix Fénéon coined the term "Neo-Impressionism" to describe Georges Seurat's painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," which would go on to inspire the development of pointillism.

Short brush strokes evolved into fine, precise dots in pointillism as a painting technique. Artists like Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, and Paul CĂ©zanne of France, as well as Vincent van Gogh of the Netherlands, were influenced by this technique and used it to express their unique views of the world through the use of patterned brushstrokes and unnatural colors.

Even though the pointillism art movement only lasted a few years, its impact on the art world would last for decades. Surrealism and Fauvism were heavily influenced by this deconstructivist art technique, which led to a major shift in modern art.

Pointillism is characterized by these characteristics

Pointillism was characterized by the implementation of pure colors directly onto a canvas, rather than blending colors on a palette before using them. Pointillism was striking because raw colors were able to retain their true brightness when left unblended. It was also common practice for artists to use round or square brushes when painting, which enabled the bright colors to blend on the canvas as seen by the viewing audience.

There are a few distinctive features of pointillism that set it apart from other kinds of painting. Pointillism has a few basic characteristics:

  • Small dots of color swirls on an image like pixels in photos or a computer screen.
  • Colors that haven't been mixed: Each dot of color in a pointillist painting is made up of pure color. 
  • Each contrasting color must be carefully planned and applied.

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Artists who use pointillism

  • Georges Seurat
  • Paul Signac
  • Maximilien Luce
  • Charles Angrand
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Henri-Edmond Cross

Pointillism: Methods and Techniques

A different method was devised by Seurat and Signac, influenced by Impressionist painting of the day, which sought to create paintings with an astounding illumination by depicting changing light qualities. Hence, pointillism art was born when Seurat began applying small dots and specks of color to a canvas in specific patterns that, when viewed together, created stunning images.

Pointillism was a challenge for artists to master at first because it exploited the way our eyes and brains work together. With the numerous dots in a Pointillist painting, our eyes naturally combine them into a single image. Only a few artists are still using this method today because of the influence of science.

Dotted Art vs. Pointillism: A Clear Definition

While the term dot painting has been used to describe Pointillism in the past, the technique is just another name. For art historians and collectors, Pointillism refers to artworks created using this technique during a specific period. While "Dotted Art" refers to artworks created using this technique in a more casual setting and modern times.

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Vincent van Gogh

When Vincent van Gogh, a well-known Dutch painter, briefly experimented with Pointillism, it was widely reported. Van Gogh began using the Pointillist technique after visiting Georges Seurat's studio and declaring that he had experienced a "revelation of color."

Nevertheless, it is widely accepted by art historians that van Gogh was too unsure of himself to continue working in Pointillism, as demonstrated by the fact that he abandoned the technique after only a few months of working with it.

The Influence of Pointillism on Modern Artists

Multiple contemporary artists are dabbling with the concepts that were prevalent in the Pointillism style. It has been reworked to fit into a modern context with many artists employing dots in diverse shapes and forms for a wide range of purposes. Even in the twenty-first century, artists have created works entirely based on dots, proving that Pointillism is still relevant today.

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How Does Pointillism Relate to Divisionism and Neo-Impressionism?

Pointillism pertains solely to the form of dots on the canvas. The term "dottism" could also be used to describe it. Divisionism is the name given to the theory of blending paint pigments optically on a canvas and applying them. To make matters even more perplexing, the Neo-Impressionism school of French painting adopted Pointillism as its signature style.

Color theories of Divisionism were adopted by Neo-Impressionist painters, who used Pointillist brushwork to create the most brilliant hues.

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