A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Infobox Painting|
| title=A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884
artist=Georges Seurat
type=Oil on canvas
width_inch =121.25
museum=Art Institute of Chicago

"A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884" ( _fr. Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte - 1884) is Georges Seurat's most famous work, and is an example of pointillism that is considered by some to be one of the most remarkable paintings of the 19th century, belonging to the Post-Impressionism period.

The island of la Grande Jatte is in the Seine in Paris between La Defense and the suburb of Neuilly, bisected by the Pont-de-Levallois. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. In 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.

Seurat spent two years painting it, focusing scrupulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original as well as completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He would go and sit in the park and make numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of color, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 metres in size (approx. 6 feet 10 inches x 10 feet 1 inch).

Motivated by study in optical and color theory, he contrasted miniature dots of colors that, through optical unification, form a single hue in the viewer's eye. He believed that this form of painting, now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes. To make the experience of the painting even more vivid, he surrounded it with a frame of painted dots, which in turn he enclosed with a pure white, wooden frame, which is how the painting is exhibited today at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In creating the picture, Seurat employed the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), most visibly for yellow highlights on the lawn in the painting, but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting's completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown—a color degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat's lifetime. [cite book|first=John |last=Gage|title=Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction|location=Boston|publisher=Little, Borwn|year=1993|pages= pp. 220, 224.]

References in popular culture

* The iPod touch and iPhone come with this in the included wallpapers.
* The Stephen Sondheim musical "Sunday in the Park with George" is based on the painting.
* The painting is featured in the 1986 film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Ferris' friend Cameron is shown locking eyes on the little girl in the center of the painting and being transfixed. The scene portrays Cameron observing a little girl up close whereupon he realizes that, though from a distance all seems on order, there is no shape or form to her face.
* Parodied in the "Family Guy" episode, "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (on the part where Stewie goes to the museum to see this painting as one of his last wishes before he dies - however the museum is incorrectly referred to The Chicago Museum of Art).
*In the famous zero-gravity opening scene of the 1968 film "Barbarella", a section of the painting is visible.
* In 2004, 20th Century Fox's "The Simpsons" were featured in a poster titled "A Day at the River" which imitates Seurat's famous painting. A mid-1990s "Looney Tunes" calendar also includes a parody.
* Also in "The Simpsons", the episode entitled "Mom and Pop Art" features Barney re-creating an exact replica of this painting.
* In PC and Commodore 64 versions of the video game "Maniac Mansion", a shredded print of the painting hangs over the decaying dining room table.
* Old Deaf School Park, a park in Columbus, Ohio attempts to replicate the piece in three-dimensional topiary. [http://www.topiarygarden.org/]
* Nancy Cameron was posed in front of a copy of the painting, dressed in a similar way, for the May, 1976, edition of "Playboy".
* A 1989 "Sesame Street" book featured a spoof called "".
* The Nintendo game "" has this painting for sale under the name "Calm Painting"
* A scene in "" has Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck into this painting. When Elmer comes out, he is still in pointilism form, so Bugs takes advantage of this, and blows Elmer away with a small fan.
* A former restaurant at the Mall of America called "Minnesota Picnic" featured a mural rather close in style and size to the Seurat original.
*The song "Camouflage" from Third Eye Blind's 1999 album "Blue" references the painting in the line "Be a dream in color even on a winter's night/Thinking George Seurat afternoon bathed in light"
* In 2006, a group of volunteers staged the scene with modern clothing. [http://www.beloitdailynews.com/articles/2006/07/04/news/news01.txt]
* Joshua Ferris' 2007 novel "Then We Came to the End", a book about the workplace, life and labor, places two workaholic lovers in front of the painting, on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.
* The Pixar movie Wall-E released in 2008 features the painting, together with other famous paintings, in the final credits.


Related works by Seurat

External links

* [http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/seurat/seurat.html Seurat and the Making of "a Grande Jatte"]

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