|Seurat: Drawings and Paintings
(Robert L. Herbert
Georges Seurat, painter of Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte, had a meteoric career that ended in 1891 with his death at age 31. In this generously illustrated book, the leading specialist on Seurat examines the entire range of the artist's work, focusing on individual paintings and drawings and interpreting the personal and social meanings of their subjects.
Robert L. Herbert closely examines Seurat's early oil panels of rural and suburban settings, early drawings of Parisians at work and leisure, and later canvases and drawings of café- concerts and circuses. Showing that Seurat's work drew on classical tradition as well as on popular arts, Herbert reevaluates the artist's painting technique and argues that individual pictures reveal artistic craft and trial and error rather than a "scientific" nature. And he demonstrates that although Seurat's drawings and paintings have striking formal structures, they are not "abstract," but rather poetic distillations of social and psychological meanings.
This collection of the most influential of Herbert's writings on Seurat, long out of print, bear out the praise he has received for "his ability to mix a deep knowledge of paintings and drawings as physical objects with an acute awareness of the way they embody ideas and can be understood as social documents" (Jack Flam, New York Review of Books). This attractive book will appeal both to the general reader and to the student of French nineteenth-century art.