Gauguin, Van Gogh, Pissarro: Divisionists

Oddly enough three artists whose careers do not suggest that colour sensations were their exclusive, or even their chief interest, displayed much interest in Divisionism. First we have Gauguin who painted a Landscape at Pont-Aven in the technique of the Point, or dot; then a Still Life in the same manner, which he laughingly called the "dot-and-carry-one" style.

When, in 1887, Van Gogh visited Seurat, he was much impressed by his big canvases. Indeed he showed considerable enthusiasm for the pointilliste technique, though this was probably not for its technical qualities, but because it might help him to step up the brilliancy of certain tones needed for the expression of those emotional experiences which bulked so large in his troubled life.

Likewise Pissarro saw in the divisionist "system" only a set of new formulas and tested them, chiefly, it would seem, with an eye to their technical possibilities. With this in mind he painted a certain number of canvases. But not only did the severely scientific programme of the pointillistes conflict with that free expression of his sensibilities which meant so much to this "poet of the earth," but its formalism cramped the easy movement of his hand and that "colour inspiration" whose spontaneity he was determined to safeguard.

"With red and green I have tried to depict those terrible things, men's passions . . ."




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