cover image Seurat


Rizzoli, Madeleine-Perdri, Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat. Rizzoli International Publications, $69.2 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1286-8

Son of a one-armed, misanthropic bailiff, Georges Seurat (1859-1891) was an intensely private person. Just two days before he died of diphtheria, the painter presented his companion, Madeleine Knobloch, and their 13-month-old son to his mother. Seurat's ``withdrawal into the self,'' writes French art historian Madeleine-Perdrillat, yielded a personal language that integrated the human figure into nature. But the artist's motionless people with their slight air of unreality reflect the ultimate failure of his quest for unity. His precisely poetic art is a ``tranquil paroxysm,'' notes the author, who takes us deep inside the ``spatial anxiety'' of his paintings and drawings. This wonderfully sensitive, gorgeously illustrated study sheds new light on Seurat's enigmatic art. (Jan.)