The Easel

17th May 2022

The vibrating beingness of Seurat’s pointillist paintings

Seurat thought colourful Impressionism needed the discipline of the Old Masters. His remedy was pointillism – painting with meticulously applied dots of “simultaneously contrasting” colours. This technique “aims to deconstruct the act of seeing … Something about Seurat’s work just pulls you in. The mind wants patterns in the same way that the eye wants colours to merge. We want definition and borders. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try to keep it together, we cannot.”

Dissident artist Alexander Archipenko rediscovered in the Estorick Collection

Paris in 1910 was a magnet for modernist artists, among them the eastern European sculptors Brancusi and Kyiv-born Archipenko. Rejecting Rodin as “outdated”, Archipenko used the new ideas of cubism to create elegant, radical biomorphic forms. Italian Futurists loved his “optimistic sculptures of a Brave New World” and their advocacy only increased his influence. All this caught the eye of an unknown Giacometti, who moved to Paris and, in 1925, rented Archipenko’s former studio.