More about Eiffel Tower
Whether or not the world as Georges Seurat saw it was as out of focus as many of his paintings and drawings would suggest is up for debate.
One thing is for sure, his particularly persnickety style of painting drew a (presumably) spotty dividing line between the older Impressionists and those feisty young upstarts known as the Post-Impressionists. La Tour Eiffel, finished just months ahead of the completion of the tower for its 1889 World’s Fair debut, is a quiet riot of devilishly precise dabs of color.
The Seurat dots of La Tour Eiffel are a riot of multicolored confetti, each piece notched in just so in order to complement and modify the dots adjacent. This is Seurat’s thing, painting in a way that allows the viewer’s eyes to blend the myriad colored dots into a unified, vividly colorful image. Seurat called this new technique 'chromoluminarism,' though it is better known as Divisionism. It later became known as Pointillism after the tiny strokes of paint that help create the flickering effect of Seurat’s surfaces.
This flickering effect is most pronounced in La Tour Eiffel. The bright sky shimmers with obsessive flecks of white, gold, and blue. And dead center in the middle of this flickering psychedelia appears a promontory of dazzling dots extending to the top of the painting where it simply dematerializes back into the ether.
After studying and contemplating this painting for a couple weeks, the following conclusions have been drawn: Pointillism isn’t especially funny. Heck, it’s not even particularly cute. Pointillism is serious stuff brought to light by a draftsman from a wealthy family who just so happened to have the mad skill of mixing abstract painting with mathematics to come up with a bit of magic that marked the beginning of a new era in the world of art.
I can’t say I fully agree when critics say Seurat’s Eiffel Tower is a great work of art, but I’ll give the guy credit where credit is due.
I’m sure the Eiffel Tower was a big deal around the time that Seurat painted it and in fact, the Eiffel Tower is STILL a big deal. Seurat painted this about two months before engineer Gustave Eiffel had finished it, and obviously WAY before it became the place to take countless photographs of yourself making out in front of it, people holding up peace signs, people holding up the tower by its tip, amongst many other classic yet cheesy poses, only now boosted in creativity with the invention of the selfie stick.
I still try to figure out what the actual function of the tower was supposed to be, but in spite of its ambiguous purpose, it doesn’t upset me so much to look at it. However, critics and intellectuals at that time were just plain pissed with this massive erection (pun intended) on their precious Parisian landscape. Seurat was obviously dotty about it though (I’ll stop now). Enough to sit down by the quai de Passy during different times of the day and paint this baby.
Now, like I said, its no Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, but it’s still a pretty little picture. Even though the tower lives up to its name and does indeed tower over the city, Seurat painted it sweetly on a small canvas. Keeping monumentality out of it, Seurat uses his characteristic technique of painting in dots or points and somehow makes the structure of the tower look a lot lighter, in terms of weight. Again, this doesn’t have to do with the size of the painting but more to do with the way these colored dots look like they just spontaneously ossified into the Eiffel Tower. In that, they look like they could also diffuse any second and the whole picture could go poof! In fact, one of the reasons why Seurat felt an affinity with this modern construction was because he was getting a lot crap at that time for his less than conservative painting technique. Seurat maybe thought, “Us rebels gotta stick together” and went for this.
Ok, so maybe the later critics were onto something when they called it a great piece. Feel free to pick up the $5 fridge magnet version of this if you agree.