Pointillism is a style of painting in which non- primary colors are generated, not by the mixing of pigments in the palette nor by using pigments directly, but by the visual mixing of points of primary colors, placed in close proximity to each other. Originally developed by Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat, the movement is also associated with Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross.
When viewed from a distance, the points or dots cannot be distinguished, and blend optically into each other. This means that with the same set of primaries, pointillists generate a different range of colors when compared to artists using traditional colors or color-mixing techniques. The result is sometimes described as brighter or purer since the eye does the mixing and not the brush. An explanation for this could be sought in the subtractive and additive theories of color.
Usually when colors are produced by pigments being mixed physically, the subtractive color theory is at work. Here the mixing of pigments of the primary colours produces less light; so if we mix red, blue and yellow pigments(subtractive primaries), we get a colour close to black. However when colours are produced by the mixing of light, then the additive color theory is at work. Here the mixing of lights of the three primary colours produces more light; so if we mix red, blue and green light(additive primaries) we get something close to white light. The brighter effect of pointillist colours could rise from the fact that subtractive mixing is avoided and something closer to the effect of additive mixing is obtained even through pigments.
The brushwork used to perform pointillistic color mixing is at the expense of traditional brushwork which could be used to delineate texture. Color television receivers and computer screens, both CRT and LCD, use tiny dots of primary red, green, and blue to render color, and can thus be regarded as a kind of pointillism.
Pointillism in music
The term pointillism was later borrowed by musicians to describe a style of composition first seen in the works of Anton Webern and used by his followers such as Pierre Boulez through the 1950s and 1960s, in which carefully chosen sounds of different timbres, each apparently standing in isolation rather than linking up to form more obviously melodic relationships, make up the piece. See also: micromontage (transient), microsound, and granular synthesis.
Last updated: 05-17-2005 03:48:29