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Pointillism By Chadwick, Stephanie

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM193-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 21 March 2018, from


Pointillism is a technique developed by Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat (1859–1891) whereby paint is meticulously applied in small daubs or dots. Interested in color and optical theories, the Neo-Impressionists (Seurat, Paul Signac, Camille Pissaro, and other artists) applied Pointillist daubs (rather than more sweeping Impressionist brushstrokes) in conjunction with a closely related process known as Divisionism. With the goal of creating well-crafted harmonies of contrasts, the points of paint were applied, in analogous and complementary clusters, over gradated fields of local colors (such as green for grass) to form mutually enhancing fields of complementary hues. Using these techniques, unmixed (or divided) points of pigment were applied with the idea that the colors would blend in the eyes and minds of the viewer. Although this optical blending does not fully occur, these techniques produce a sense of vibrancy as the viewer’s eyes attempt to synthesize the multi-colored points. Although Pointillist and Divisionist techniques were intended to produce undulating color and light effects, the Neo-Impressionists’ concern for scientific principles, ordered composition, and artistic craftsmanship tended to result in more rigidly structured paintings than those of the Impressionists.

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Citing this article:

Chadwick, Stephanie. "Pointillism." The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis, 2016. Date Accessed 21 Mar. 2018 doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM193-1

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