Georges Seurat (1859-1891), “Circus Sideshow,” 1887-1888, oil on canvas, © MET 2017

New York City is poised to open a fun exhibition this weekend featuring works by Georges Seurat (1859-1891). Details here!

Visitors to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art this spring will be treated to a colorful and fun circus-themed exhibition featuring more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, period posters, instruments, and illustrated journals. “Seurat’s Circus Sideshow” opens on February 17 and continues through May 29 and — as its title suggests — centers around a stunning pointillist masterwork by Georges Seurat (1859-1891) called “Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque).”

Via the museum, “‘Circus Sideshow’ is one of only a half-dozen major figure compositions that date to Seurat’s short career. More compact in scale and more evocative in expression than his other scenes of modern life — which he regarded as ‘toiles de lutte’ (canvases of combat) — the painting effectively announced the Neo-Impressionist’s next line of attack on old guard turf, signaling a shift in focus away from the sunlit banks of the Seine to the heart of urban Paris. ‘Circus Sideshow’ initiated a final trio of works devoted to popular entertainment and led the fray as the first to tackle a nighttime setting with the benefit of his innovative technique, alternatively called pointillism or divisionism (the former term emphasizing the dotted brushwork, the latter, the theory behind separating, or dividing, color into discrete touches that would retain their integrity and brilliance). It was his singular experiment in painting outdoor, artificial illumination. The result is disarming. In relying on his finely tuned approach to evoke the effects of ethereal, penumbral light in this evening fairground scene of the Corvi Circus troupe and their public at the Gingerbread Fair in Paris, Seurat produced his most mysterious painting. From the time it debuted at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1888, it has unfailingly intrigued, perplexed, and mesmerized its viewers. Seurat’s closest associates, seemingly dumbstruck, largely confined their spare remarks to its novelty as a ‘nocturnal effect.’ The laconic artist never mentioned the picture.”

Also included in the show are works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Pelez, and the great caricaturist Honoré Daumier. To learn more, visit the MET.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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