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Seurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte"

June 19, 2004–September 19, 2004
Regenstein Hall

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 is one of the most beloved, famous, and frequently reproduced paintings in the world. Seen by tens of millions of viewers since it entered the Art Institute's collection in 1924, the painting is an icon and a destination in itself for visitors. This exhibition of approximately 130 paintings and works on paper at once celebrates and sheds new light on Georges Seurat’s masterpiece by bringing together approximately 45 of the artist’s paintings and drawings related to the picture—from rich, yet delicate, conté crayon studies to oil sketches on small wood panels to nearly full-size paintings. The exhibition presents some of Seurat’s early works and shows the remarkable transformation of his colors and subject matter around 1883–85, when he started to explore the modern-life subjects, high-keyed colors, and broken brushwork of Impressionism. The exhibition features paintings by Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro, all painters whom Seurat greatly admired. These artists’ depictions of figures at the seaside, boating, or promenading through fields would resonate in Seurat’s unabashed tribute to modern leisure. Also included are works by Paul Signac and Lucien Pissarro, artists who shared similar interest in the pointillist technique and whose works were featured in the same exhibition that launched La Grande Jatte to a Parisian public.