Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte, a provocative exhibition that that tells the story of one of the world's greatest-and most enigmatic-paintings, Georges-Pierre Seurat's (1859-91) A Sunday on La Grande Jatte -- 1884 will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 19 through September 19, 2004. The exhibition will reassess this singular masterpiece, examining its conception, birth, and transition to its final form, as well as its legacy to the Art Institute, to Chicago, and to the history of Modernism. The exhibition will be shown only in Chicago.
Sunday on La Grande Jatte -- 1884 (1884-86) is one of the most famous, visited, and frequently reproduced paintings in the world. Seen by tens of millions of viewers since its arrival in 1926, the picture is an Art Institute icon and a destination in itself for visitors who travel here from around the globe. First exhibited in Paris in 1886, it was a visual manifesto that quickly became a landmark in the development of modern painting. Today, La Grande Jatte continues to fascinate scholars, museum visitors, artists, and advertisers alike. With more than 130 paintings and works on paper from public and private collections world-wide, the exhibition will demonstrate how Georges-Pierre Seurat set the stage for art beyond Impressionism.
Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte celebrates La Grande Jatte and its place within Seurat's own artistic evolution; revisits its impact as a watershed event for the Parisian vanguard when it was first exhibited at the eighth and final Impressionist Exhibition; and traces its resonance in the works of the artist's closest colleagues. All of the Art Institute's formidable scientific, curatorial, and technical resources have been harnessed to provide fresh information and insights, prompting viewers to appreciate in exciting new ways both the final painting and the process that led to it.
Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte reflects the groundbreaking research on La Grande Jatte conducted by the Art Institute's staff, in collaboration with a distinguished Seurat scholar and an internationally known color scientist. Art-historical, scientific, and technical resources have been brought together to examine and analyze the three stages through which Seurat reworked and reenvisioned the painting -- from its 1884-85 genesis to the 1885 addition of the signature pointillist dots and dashes, to the c. 1888-89 addition of its painted border. A special feature of the exhibition is a full-size digital re-creation of La Grande Jatte as it was first seen by the Parisian public in May 1886, before the painting darkened somewhat.
Among the works on view in the exhibition are 40 of Seurat's paintings and drawings related to the picture -- from rich yet delicate conte crayon studies to oil sketches on small wood panels, to nearly full-sized paintings. The exhibition will begin with some of Seurat's early works from 1881-82, and then show the remarkable transformation of his colors and subject matter around 1883, when he started to explore the modern-life subjects, high-keyed colors, and broken brushwork of Impressionism. Also featured are paintings by Claude Monet and Pierre-August Renoir, painters whom Seurat greatly admired, and whose depictions of figures at the seaside, boating, or promenading through fields would resonate in Seurat's unabashed tribute to modern leisure.