Seurat

Richard Thompson, Author, Richard Thomson, Author Salem House Publishers $40 (240p) ISBN 978-0-88162-113-6
Thomson argues persuasively that the dazzling techniques of Georges Seurat's colored-dot paintings have made us lose sight of the social meaning of the French painter's work. His Pointillist evocations of Paris, its suburbs and its popular entertainments show people acting out roles in modern society, according to the author. All of Seurat's ""performers'' are seen in a cramped, even stage-like space, whether on the island of Grande-Jatte, at circuses and fairs, or in music halls. To Seurat, the artificial roles that his characters assumed were divisive and restricting. Although he avoided all suggestion of social criticism, Thomson contends, his pictures of entertainers mirrored sharp class divisions and alluded to the growth of trade unions. A documenter of urban alienation and suburban monotony, Seurat increasingly used figures as icons rather than drawing from nature. The Eiffel Tower rises up in his paintings as a symbol of technological progress. Illustrated with 160 excellent color plates and 165 halftones, this superbly produced study sheds fresh light on Seurat's oils and drawings. November 22
Reviewed on: 12/02/1985
Release date: 12/01/1985
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