1.5.3.5 Divisionism (1884-1909)

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QUICK LINKS:
Sunday Afternoon La Grande Jette, Seurat
Bathers at Asnières, Seurat
Bridge at Courbevoie, Seurat
Lighthouse at Honfleur, Seurat
Self Portrait with Felt Hat, van Gogh
The Eiffel Tower, Seurat
Félix Fénéon, Signac
April, Epping 1894, Pissarro
Papal Palace, Avignon, Signac
Luxury, Calm and Desire, Matisse

The Madwoman, Balla
Boats in the Port of Collioure, Derain
La Seine à Rouen au crépuscule, Pinchon
L’homme à la tulipe, Delaunay
La Danse, Bacchante, Metzinger
Cypress Trees in Cagnes, Cross
Sunlight on the banks of the Loing, Picabia
Pine Tree at St Tropez, Signac
Three Women, Boccioni
Nasturtiums with the painting ‘Dance I’, Matisse

Divisionism was a late nineteenth century painting technique that involved using tiny adjacent dabs of primary colour to create the effect of light.

By requiring the viewer to combine the colors optically instead of physically mixing pigments, Divisionists believed they were achieving the maximum luminosity scientifically possible.

Georges Seurat founded the style around 1884 as chromoluminarism, drawing from his understanding of the scientific theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood and Charles Blanc, among others.

Divisionism developed along with another style, Pointillism, which is defined specifically by the use of dots of paint and does not necessarily focus on the separation of colors

[1535-10]


Image source: Wikimedia commons
Seurat’s painting was a mirror impression of his own painting, Bathers at Asnières, completed shortly before, in 1884.

Whereas the bathers in that earlier painting are doused in light, almost every figure on La Grande Jatte appears to be cast in shadow, either under trees or an umbrella, or from another person.

For Parisians, Sunday was the day to escape the heat of the city and head for the shade of the trees and the cool breezes that came off the river. And at first glance, the viewer sees many different people relaxing in a park by the river.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, A1884-6Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Seurat, Georges1859-1891, aged 31French painter ParisPointillism/Divisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-11]

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago USA208 x 308 See also under Pointillism
This large picture was Seurat’s first major composition, painted when he had not yet turned 25. He intended it to be a grand statement with which he would make his mark at the official Salon in the spring of 1884, but it was rejected.

Several men and boys relax on the banks of the Seine at Asnières and Courbevoie, an industrial suburb north-west of central Paris. Shown in profile, they are as immobile as sculptures and each seems absorbed in his own thoughts, neither engaging with each other nor with us. Suffused with bright but hazy sunlight, the entire scene has an almost eerie stillness to it, as if time has been suspended and all movement temporarily frozen.

In the background there is a railway bridge that partly hides a parallel road bridge, as well as the chimneys of the gas plant and factories at Clichy, where some of the men may work.
[Source: nationalgallery.org.uk]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Bathers at Asnières1884Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Seurat, Georges1859-1891, aged 31French painter ParisImpressionism/Divisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-12]

National Gallery, London UK201 X 300 See also under Impressionism

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Seurat painted this view of the River Seine in the industrial suburb of Courbevoie near Paris, using the divisionist technique he had created. The scene shows an island called the Grande Jatte, which Seurat often painted, but the mood is unusually sombre and silent. The isolated human figures add to the sense of melancholy.
[Source: artuk.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Bridge at Courbevoie1886-7Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Seurat, Georges1859-1891, aged 31French painter ParisDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-13]

Courtauld Institute Galleries, London UK46 x 53  
Seurat showed works similar to The Lighthouse at Honfleur in 1886 at the eighth and last impressionist exhibition, an event that established him as a leading modernist.

Based on new theories about optical characteristics of light and colour, Seurat invented a scientifically objective form of impressionismby juxtaposing minute touches of unmixed pigments in hues corresponding to the perceived local colour, the colour of light, the complement of the local colour for shadow, and reflected colour of nearby areas, which in principle will combine visually when viewed from the proper distance.

This meticulous technique, less random than impressionism, enabled Seurat to record appearances more accurately while preserving the fresh, natural qualities he admired in impressionist works.
[Source: nga.gov]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lighthouse at Honfleur, The1886Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Seurat, Georges1859-1891, aged 31French painter ParisDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-14]

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA67 x 82  

Image source: vangoghmuseum.nl
Van Gogh painted this self-portrait in the winter of 1887–88, when he had been in Paris for almost two years. It is clear from the work that he had studied the technique of the Pointillists and applied it in his own, original way. He placed the short stripes of paint in different directions. Where they follow the outline of his head, they form a kind of halo.

The painting is also one of Van Gogh’s boldest colour experiments in Paris. He placed complementary colours alongside one another using long brushstrokes: blue and orange in the background, and red and green in the beard and eyes. The colours intensify one another. The red pigment has faded, so the purple strokes are now blue, which means the contrast with the yellow is less powerful.
[Source: vangoghmuseum.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait with Felt Hat1887Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
van Gogh, Vincent1853-1890, aged 37Dutch painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-15]

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam NL41 x 32  
La Tour Eiffel, finished just months ahead of the completion of the tower for its 1889 World’s Fair debut, is a quiet riot of devilishly precise dabs of color.

The Seurat dots of La Tour Eiffel are a riot of multicoloured confetti, each piece notched in order to complement and modify the dots adjacent, painting in a way that allows the viewer’s eyes to blend the myriad coloured dots into a unified, vividly colourful image.

This flickering effect is most pronounced in La Tour Eiffel. The bright sky shimmers with obsessive flecks of white, gold, and blue. And dead centre in the middle of this flickering psychedelia appears a promontory of dazzling dots extending to the top of the painting where it simply dematerializes back into the ether.
[Source: sartle.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Eiffel Tower, The1889Oil/WoodGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Seurat, Georges1859-1891, aged 31French painter ParisDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-16]

Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco CA US24 x 15  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Félix Fénéon was an editor, translator, art dealer, and anarchist activist and the critic who coined the term Neo-Impressionism to describe the works of Signac and Georges Seurat in the late 1880s.

In this portrait, Signac depicted Fénéon in left profile. The lines of the subject’s nose, elbow, and cane descend in a zigzag pattern, like the rhythmic “beats and angles” of the title, and the flower he holds rhymes with the upturned curl of his goatee.

Attention to abstract patterns continues in the kaleidoscopic pinwheel of the backdrop, likely an allusion to the aesthetic theory of Charles Henry, the Frenchman whose books on colour theory and the ‘algebra’ of visual rhythm Signac had recently illustrated.
[Source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Félix Fénéon, Portrait of 1890Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Signac, Paul1863-1935, aged 72French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-17]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY USA74 x 93  
The earliest of Lucien Pissarro’s paintings in the Tate collection, made a few years after he settled in Britain, April, Epping 1894 reflects the artist’s continuing admiration for Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, the ‘neo-impressionist’ or ‘divisionist’ artists with whom he had been friends in Paris.

For a few years his father Camille had also been an enthusiastic practitioner of divisionism, the style of painting in dots of light colour favoured by Seurat and Signac, and all four artists had shown as a group in Paris in 1886, in the last of the series of impressionist exhibitions.
[Source: tate.org.uk]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
April, Epping 18941894Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Pissarro, Lucien1863-1944, aged 81French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-18]

Tate Galleries, London UK60 x73  

 


Image source: Wikimedia commons
Signac’s style developed over time from the closely structured pointillism of the late 1880s and early 1890s, to a freer divisionist technique employing larger brushstrokes to achieve a shimmering, shifting, mesmeric surface.

Palais des Papes, Avignon is the product of this later style, possibly one of a number of paintings completed in 1909 (scholars differ as to the date of execution) depicting famous buildings seen from the sea or adjoining river (the others included views of Genoa, Venice and Istanbul).

Part of a longer term project depicting famous ports (visited on cruises in his yacht – he was a very keen sailor), this was the first of Signac’s oil paintings to be purchased by the state, entering the French national collection in 1912.
[Source: worldsbestpaintings.net]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Papal Palace, Avignon1900Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Signac, Paul1863-1935, aged 72French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-19]

Musee d’Orsay, Paris73 x 92  
Luxe, Calme et Volupté is a pivotal work in the history of art, considered as the starting point of Fauvism.

This painting is a dynamic and vibrant work created early on in his career as a painter. It displays an evolution of the Neo-Impressionist style mixed with a new conceptual meaning based in fantasy and leisure that had not been seen in works before.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Luxury, Calm and Desire1904Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Matisse, Henri1869-1954, age 95French painterFauvism/Divisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-20]

Musee d’Orsay,  Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France99 x 119 See also under Fauvism
The Madwoman is part of a series of four canvases known as the ‘Cycle of the Living’, painted by the Italian futurist artist Giacomo Balla, best known for capturing light, movement, and speed in his works.

The Madwoman, painted in 1905, depicts an unsteady, ambiguously gesturing, clumsy woman standing at the threshold of a doorway. Looking at this shocking portrait of a woman who seems to have lost her balance, brings to mind the words of Huntington in his report published in 1871.

The woman in the painting was Matilde Garbini. She was one of Balla’s most studied subjects, depicted in almost 100 of his drawings. In particular, Balla made several sketches to study Garbini, trying to capture her awkward movements. Garbini, often found begging and drunk, lived in the slums of Rome, Italy.
[Source: thelancet.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Madwoman. The1905Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Balla, Giacomo1871-1958, aged 87Italian painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-21]

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, Italy115 x 175  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
 In the summer of 1905 André Derain, then twenty-five, left Paris for a two-month sojourn with his friend Henri Matisse. They settled in the small fishing town of Collioure, on the southwest coast of France near the Spanish border.

The two men discussed art theory and painted canvases filled with bright light, high colour, and exuberant, often broken brushwork. Along with Maurice de Vlaminck, they were the major proponents of a short-lived movement known as Fauvism.

The term “Fauves”—”Wild Beasts”—was attached to these artists when their innovative work shocked and offended the sensibilities of viewers at the 1905 Salon d’Automne exhibition in Paris.
[Source: metmuseum.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Boats in the Port of Collioure1905Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Derain, André1880-1954, aged 74French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-22]

Royal Academy, London UK60 x 73  

 

Robert Antoine Pinchon was a French Post-Impressionist landscape painter of the Rouen School who was born and spent most of his life in France. He was consistent throughout his career in his dedication to painting landscapes en plein air.

From the age of nineteen he worked in a Fauve style but never deviated into Cubism, and, unlike others, never found that Post-Impressionism did not fulfill his artistic needs.

Claude Monet
referred to him as a surprising touch in the service of a surprising eye.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
La Seine à Rouen au crépuscule1905Oil/PaperboardLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Pinchon, Robert-Antoine1886-1943, aged 57French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-23]

Private collection65 x 54  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This portrait of Jean Metzinger, is something of a hommage to Van Gogh. It was Van Gogh whom Delaunay and his friend Metzinger considered to be the true father of colourism.

In 1905 both young artists had exhibited eight oils at the 21st Salon des Artistes Indépendants. It was at this exhibition that forty-five major oils and works on paper by Van Gogh were shown a retrospective to the Parisian public for the first time. The impact that this exhibition must have had on young colourist painters would clearly have been considerable.
[Source: christies.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
L’homme à la Tulipe1906Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Delaunay, Robert1885-1941, aged 56French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-24]

Private collection74 x 49  
La Danse (aka Bacchante) is an oil painting created c1906 by Jean Metzinger.

Bacchante is a pre-Cubist or Proto-Cubist work executed in a highly personal Divisionist style during the height of the Fauve period.

It was painted in Paris at a time when Metzinger and Robert Delaunay painted portraits of one another, exhibiting together at the Salon d’Automne and the Berthe Weill gallery. It was exhibited in Paris during the spring of 1907 at the Salon des Indépendants (No. 3460), along with Coucher de soleil and four other works by Metzinger.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
La Danse, Bacchante1906Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Metzinger, Jean1883-1956, aged 73French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-25]

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands73 x 54  

Image source: wga.hu
Henri-Edmond Cross was a French painter and printmaker. He is most acclaimed as a master of Neo-Impressionism and he played an important role in shaping the second phase of that movement.

He was a significant influence on Henri Matisse and many other artists. His work was also instrumental in the development of Fauvism.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Cypress Trees in Cagnes1908Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Cross, Henri-Edmond1856-1910, aged 54French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-26]

Musee d’Orsay, Paris France100 x 81  
Francis Picabia was a French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist. After experimenting with Impressionism and Pointillism, Picabia became associated with Cubism.

His highly abstract planar compositions were colourful and rich in contrasts. He was one of the early major figures of the Dada movement in the United States and in France. He was later briefly associated with Surrealism, but would soon turn his back on the art establishment.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Sunlight on the banks of the Loing1908Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Picabia, Francis1879-1953, aged 74French painter ParisDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-27]

Private collection65 x 92  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
 The picture gives an excellent idea of Paul Signac’s pictorial manner. The artist set out his artistic principles in the book From Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism published in 1899. According to Neo-Impressionist theory the colours of the pure spectrum should be applied to the canvas in separate brushstrokes, creating the sensation of rays of sunlight being refracted. The vivid palette used by Signac in this canvas enables the artist to convey the rich colours of the countryside in the south of France.
[Source: pushkinmuseum.art]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Pine Tree at St Tropez, The1909Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Signac, Paul1863-1935, aged 72French painterDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-28]

Pushkin Museum, Moscow Russia72 x 92  
A painting by Italian artist Umberto Boccioni, executed between 1909 and 1910, in the style of divisionism.

The painting contains three figures, one being Boccioni’s mother Cecilia on the left, another being his sister, Amelia on the right, and the third being Ines, his lover, in the centre.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Three Women1909-10Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Boccioni, Umberto1882-1916, aged 34Italian painter/sculptorDivisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1535-29]

Banca Commerciale Italiana, Milan Italy180 x 132  

Image souurce: metmuseum.org
Matisse’s representations of his studio often include glimpses of other artwork.

Here he depicts the left half of his large canvas, Dance I (1909, Museum of Modern Art, New York). The carefully arranged furniture in the foreground flattens the pictorial space. The back leg of the tripod sculpture stand appears to rest in the grass of the painting behind it. Similarly, the chair in the left corner is placed so that the top rung of its back extends a horizontal purple stripe across the canvas.

In a simpler version of this composition (Pushkin Museum, Moscow), this stripe denotes the area of wall visible between Dance I and the studio floor.
[Source: metmuseum.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Nasturtiums with the painting ‘Dance I’1912Oil/CanvasStill Life
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Matisse, Henri1869-1954, age 95French painterFauvism/Divisionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY192 x 115  

Forward to 1.5.4 Modernisme Index (1888-1911)
Back to 1.5.3.4 Abstract Art I (1880s-1952) – Back to Abstract Art II (1956- )
Back to 1.5.3 Pointillism, Art Nouveau Index

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