Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image.

Georges Seurat and Paul Signac developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term “Pointillism” was coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works of these artists, and is now used without its earlier mocking connotation. The movement Seurat began with this technique is known as Neo-impressionism. The Divisionists, too, used a similar technique of patterns to form images, though with larger cube-like brushstrokes.

The process and the theoretical discourse of Signac seduced for a few years, mainly in France and Belgium, painters like Camille Pissarro, Maximilien Luce, Théo van Rysselberghe, classified in an artistic current, called “neo-impressionist”, resulting from the ‘ Impressionism one hand, and what Seurat fired optical research Michel Eugène Chevreul and writings of Charles Blanc 2, as he drew the sarcasm of Paul Gauguin.

According to the adepts of the pointillist theory, when the painting is viewed at a certain distance, the points of color can not be distinguished from each other and blend optically with each other. The visual appearance obtained is different from that obtained by mixing colors on a palette and then applying them on the canvas. Some describe the result as brighter or purer because the mixture is made by the eye and not by the brush.

The explanation could be related to the theories on the additivity and the subtractivity of the colors: usually, when colors are produced by a mixture of pigments, the subtractivity plays (each pigment absorbs a set of frequencies of the luminous spectrum, the mixture of the pigments returns the set of unabsorbed frequencies). So, mix cyan and magenta pigmentsand yellow (the subtractive primary colors) produces a color close to black. On the other hand, when mixing colors produced by sources of light, additivity plays its role: the mixture of light beams of the three colors, red, green and blue produces a light close to white since the set of visible frequencies is represented. Television screens, for example, use this system.

To represent the emotions, the rhythm and the movement in their paintings, the neo-impressionist painters used a theory on lines and colors. Rising lines combined with warm colors express joy and happiness; while the lines that come down with cold and dark colors reflect the feeling of sadness.

Criticism has not always accepted to submit its perception of the work to the theory: “Commercial specialization […] is embedded in the external processes of execution. There are such painters [who compose them] [their canvases] of an insipid mixture of assembled tones, which they recommend to the public under the name of pointillist method. I want the resolution of the colors in their elements to keep their full brightness and be useful to make certain lighting; but painters achieved the ” tachism ” use it wrongly and through more nothing alive, nothing solid throughout a strange flicker where one distinguishes evil vague forms. ”

Gustave Geffroy thus comments on this “venomous way of placing some fairly regular points of different colors near each other”: “It is quite impossible not to realize that the process holds the main place, and that the cold way regular, meticulous, whose colored dots are placed and spaced out is needed with obsessive persistence. The luminous intensity sought by the neo-impressionists may exist in works thus understood, but it will be despite the small dots. It takes a persistent effort, a stubborn good faith in the viewer to violate his frustrated vision […]. ”

Georges Roque has studied the approximations and equivocations of the theory, claiming to make more luminous colors by an optical (additive) mixture, whereas the painting uses subtractive pigments, and confusing in his speech two contradictory effects, that of the simultaneous contrast of the colors which is observed when the colored beaches have a certain extent, and that of the fusion of the colors which are observed when they are small, as in the tapestries.

Hostile or doubtful criticism can also be based on a description of the tables.

This movement, within the coordinates of post – impressionism, also starts from the image of nature, that is, from the same motif as the impressionists, but for them it will be very specific physical and physiological laws that characterize the essence of painting. His material of reflection will be, above all, the writings of Charles Blanc and, in a more radical way the impressionists, the scientific treatises of Chevreul, Sutter, Rood and others.

Thanks to them, Pointillism saw before it a field in which its task would have to be the methodical application of its knowledge and the reconciliation of the rigid principles of drawing with the optical principles intuited by the great colorists. The logical and reflective mind of these painters called for the reduction of instinct to order, of impulse to calculation, reducing to essentials, not only the themes of modern life or landscape, but also the impressionist method of presenting it. In fact, the declaration by Charles Blanc (“Color, which is controlled by fixed laws, can be taught as music”), published for the first time in 1865 in his well-known Grammatical Ades arts du dessin, it perfectly summarizes the attitude of the pointillistas before the expressive possibilities of art and indicates its program. According to this, just as there are mathematical relationships between musical tones, there are physical relationships between colors, which can be demonstrated in the laboratory and carried out in the studio. In order to study in more detail the interaction of the colors and their complementary ones, some pointillistas made an album in which they gathered all the nuances of the rainbow, united to each other by means of a determined number of intermediate colors.

In their palette they also used white mixed with primary colors, which allowed them to obtain a multitude of shades ranging from a color with a slight presence of white to an almost pure white. The disc was completed in such a way that the pure nuances were concentrated around the center, from where they vanished towards the target until they reached the periphery.

The physical experiments had also proved that the mixture of colors dirtied them and eventually led to black. Therefore, the only mixture capable of producing the desired effect is the optical mixture, which thus becomes the predominant factor in its execution. After having separately collected in his canvases the individual elements of color present in nature, the painter assigned to the retina of the spectator the task of uniting them again. The technique of brushstrokes of the Impressionists did not allow the mathematical exactitude that pointillistas needed to apply their system with total yield.

Through the adoption of tiny brushstrokes in the shape of a point, they managed to accumulate, even on small surfaces, a great variety of colors and tones, each of which corresponded to one of the elements that contributed to the appearance of the object. At a certain distance these tiny particles are mixed optically and the result had to produce a much greater intensity of colors than any mixture of pigments.

In this sense, his studies of light and color surpass those made by any of the Impressionists, but they also encountered greater difficulties. With more knowledge and a more disciplined eye, they had to find all the nuances of the luminous spectrum, as well as a way to illuminate or obscure a given hue in relation to the simultaneous contrasts produced by the colors that surrounded it. One of the most notable works in that sense is Sunday afternoon on the island of the Grande Jatte of Surat.

Despite the apparent success of the denomination of pointillism, especially in regard to the technique of this group, neither Seurat nor Signac ever accepted and both condemned and rigorously avoided this term in favor of divisionism, which included better all your innovations.

The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones. It is related to Divisionism, a more technical variant of the method. Divisionism is concerned with color theory, whereas pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint. It is a technique with few serious practitioners today, and is notably seen in the works of Seurat, Signac and Cross. However, see also Andy Warhol’s early works, and Pop Art.

The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the traditional methods of blending pigments on a palette. Pointillism is analogous to the four-color CMYK printing process used by some color printers and large presses that place dots of Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow, and Key (black). Televisions and computer monitors use a similar technique to represent image colors using Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colors.

If red, blue, and green light (the additive primaries) are mixed, the result is something close to white light (see Prism (optics)). Painting is inherently subtractive, but Pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided, and partly because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots.

The painting technique used for Pointillist color mixing is at the expense of the traditional brushwork used to delineate texture.

The majority of Pointillism is done in oil paint. Anything may be used in its place, but oils are preferred for their thickness and tendency not to run or bleed.

First reactions
It was obvious to the audience, artists and critics that they were dealing with something new. The recording was ambivalent: Many painters were fascinated to put the painting on a scientific basis, including Paul Signac, Charles Angrand, Henri-Edmond Cross, Albert Dubois-Pillet, Léo Gausson, Louis Hayet, Maximilien Luce, Hippolyte Petitjean, at the beginning of Movement also Camille Pissarro, who later criticized the Divisionism, however, and his son Lucien. Others, such as Edgar Degas, rejected the new direction already at the beginning. The art dealer and great supporter of the Impressionist Paul Durand-Ruel expressed disappointment that Camille Pissarro was influenced by his younger colleagues, when the market for Impressionist paintings was just beginning to improve.

Rejecting critics described the style of painting as confettisme. The critic Félix Fénéon, however, campaigned for the new art direction. He saw them as forward-looking and coined the term Neoimpressionism in 1886 to emphasize this. He became deeply involved with the theoretical foundations apart and knew Charles Henry and some other theorists personally. He was Editor-in-Chief of Revue Indépendante magazine and editor of La Revue blanche magazine. Until the death of Seurat, he accompanied his work and the works of Signac with benevolent, well-founded reviews in these journals.

The German Impressionists tolerated the style of painting, but did not apply it except for Paul Baum. Long strokes remained the feature of secessionist painting in Germany.

More distribution
An essential role in the further spread of pointillism played in 1883 founded Belgian artist group Les Vingt (The Twenty). These quickly became central to the Belgian art scene. For their exhibitions, they invited a variety of artists. From 1887 onwards, they repeatedly showed the pictures of Seurat and his Paris colleagues in Brussels. Younger artists such as Théo van Rysselberghe, Henry van de Velde, Jan Toorop, Johan Joseph Aarts, Ferdinand Hart-Nibbrig, Jan Vijlbrief and others adapted the new way of seeing.

In Italy, the painters Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Emilio Longoni and Angelo Morbelli adapted the pointillist style of painting and developed it further to their own characteristics.

Influence on the art of the 20th century
The influence of pointillism on further artistic development was underestimated for a long time. Large parts of the criticism and the bourgeois public often regarded him as a trivial technical means. Many well-known artists such as Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, Elie and Robert Delaunay, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul GauguinHowever, they dealt intensively with the pointillistic technique and went through a phase of pointillistic experiments. From the point of view of some historians, this suggests that pointillism plays an essential role in the evolution from the paradigms of the early epochs, figuration and representation, to those of the twentieth century, abstraction and construction.

The art historian Robert Rosenblum judges Seurat that he can even compete with Cézanne (“can rival even Cézanne”), and he approves of his great vision (look “into the past and into the future”), he calls the painting Grande Jatte as a kind of Eiffel Tower of painting (“a kind of Eiffel Tower of painting”).

Pointillism also refers to a style of 20th-century music composition. Different musical notes are made in seclusion, rather than in a linear sequence, giving a sound texture similar to the painting version of Pointillism. This type of music is also known as punctualism or klangfarbenmelodie.

Notable artists
Charles Angrand
Chuck Close
Henri-Edmond Cross
Henri Delavallée
Albert Dubois-Pillet
Louis Fabien (pseudonym)
Georges Lemmen
Maximilien Luce
Camille Pissarro
John Roy
Georges Seurat
Paul Signac
Vincent van Gogh
Théo van Rysselberghe
Hippolyte Petitjean
Jan Toorop

Notable paintings
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat
Bathing at Asnieres by Georges Seurat
The Windmills at Overschie by Paul Signac
Banks of Seine by Georges Seurat
A Coastal Scene by Théo van Rysselberghe
Family in the Orchard by Théo van Rysselberghe
Countryside at Noon by Théo van Rysselberghe
Afternoon at Pardigon by Henri-Edmond Cross
Rio San Trovaso, Venice by Henri-Edmond Cross
The Seine in front of the Trocadero by Henri-Edmond Cross
The Pine Tree at St. Tropez by Paul Signac
Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 by Paul Signac
The Yellow Sail, Venice by Paul Signac
Notre Dame Cathedral by Maximilien Luce
Le Pont De Pierre, Rouen by Charles Angrand
The Beach at Heist by Georges Lemmen
Aline Marechal by Georges Lemmen
Vase of Flowers by Georges Lemmen

Source from Wikipedia