Once described as “the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence,” Georges Seurat’s mysterious and luminous works on paper played a crucial role in his short, vibrant career. This comprehensive exhibition—the first in almost twenty-five years to focus exclusively on Seurat’s drawings—will present over 135 works, primarily the artist’s incomparable conté drawings along with a small selection of oil sketches and paintings. Surveying the artist’s entire oeuvre, from his academic training through the emergence and elaboration of his unique methods to the studies made for his monumental canvases (such as the renowned A Sunday on La Grande Jatte), the exhibition will also present important new research on his artistic strategies and materials.
In bridging description and evocation, Seurat masses tones to abstract figures, weaves skeins of conté crayon to test the limits of decipherable space, and engages with the Parisian metropolis, illuminating urban types, revealing the ever-expanding industrial suburbs, and offering a tour through the world of nineteenth-century popular entertainment. Most of all, his dramatization of the relationship between light and shadow resulted in a distinct body of work. Though Seurat is perhaps best known as the inventor of pointillism, this exhibition will demonstrate his tremendous achievement as a draftsman and the significance of his working methods and themes for the art of the twentieth century.
Organized by Jodi Hauptman, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings, The Museum of Modern Art.