When most people think of paintings by Georges Seurat, the French pointillist painter, they probably think first of his famous painting,Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte which is probably remembered by many as Sunday In the Park With George , from the Stephen Sondheim play which revolves around the Seurat painting. For me, the Seurat paintings that spring to mind are a couple of his pieces that revolve around the circus, such as the one at the top of this post, Circus Sideshow.
For me, this painting just has magical, mysterious feel. I can imagine the tinny sound of the musicians, a kind Kurt Weill/Threepenny Opera quiet cacophony. The composition of this piece also reads very easily into my brain and I find myself excited by it to the point of envisioning work of my own that will borrow from the light and dark blocking of the piece, the way the figures are between dark borders formed by the patterned edge at the top and the shadowy people at the bottom.
While I can appreciate many paintings just for what they are and their own sheer beauty, it’s the paintings that spark something in myself, that inspire something in my own work from some connection in that painting that jumps out at me, that are usually my favorites. These Seurat circus paintings do that for me. While I find many of Seurat’s other paintings pleasant enough and lovely to see, they don’t fire my imagination in the same way.
Maybe it’s the subject matter. Maybe it’s the angular edges in these compositions compared to the softer , rounder edges of the Park painting, for instance. Maybe it something as simple of the colors of these pieces. I don’t know. I just know they make me want to get something down on paper or canvas quick before the inspiration fades.