Georges Seurat was a French painter perhaps best known for creating the masterpiece A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, a pastoral scene featuring Parisians enjoying a park. Instead of mixing colors on a pallet and then applying them to the canvas, Seurat used a technique he helped originate called pointillism, in which distinct dotlike strokes of color that blend into an image when viewed from a distance.
His innovative style gave rise to the avant-garde art movement neo-impressionism and would forever change the art world. To honor his influence, Google is dedicating an animated Doodle to Seurat on his 162nd birthday. The Doodle showcases the pointillism technique, showing the Google logo gradually transformed into Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Georges Pierre Seurat was born in Paris on Dec. 2, 1859, and began art lessons as a teenager before eventually enrolling at the prestigious fine arts institution École des Beaux-Arts in 1878. Seurat sketched sculptures and copied the old masters but soon grew disenchanted with the conventional academic approach and left the school in November 1879 to study on his own. He was particularly influenced by impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro and how they represented light and atmosphere in their paintings.
With a keen interest in the science of art, Seurat began studying color theory, perception and the psychological power of line and form. He was particularly influenced by the writings of French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul and American physicist Ogden Rood and incorporated their scientific approach to color and optical effects into his paintings.
After his first major painting, the impressionist-influenced Bathers at Asnières, was rejected by the Paris Salon in 1884, Seurat went to work on A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Using his pointillist technique, Seurat began applying thousands of tiny dots and dabs to the mural-size canvas.
The painting, depicting Parisians strolling and resting in an island park on the Seine River, took two years to complete and is now part of the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting was the inspiration for the Broadway musical Sunday in the Park With George.
Seurat's life was cut short in 1891. He died at the age of 31 from a brief illness that may have been meningitis or pneumonia.