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(Anti-)Biography and Neo-Impressionism

Author(s): Foa, Michelle

Journal: RIHA Journal
ISSN 2190-3328

Start page: 0042;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Georges Seurat | neo-impressionism | biography and art history | Victor Joze | L'Homme à femmes | pointillism | Madeleine Knoblock | Grande Jatte

This article analyzes neo-impressionism in relation to the biographical model of art criticism and art history that became increasingly prevalent in France over the course of the 19th century. Examining the critical response to the neo-impressionists, as well as some of their pictures and writings, I argue for the centrality of questions of authorship, individuality, and subjectivity to the group and its reception. I identify a distinctly anti-biographical tendency in the movement, one that disquieted the critics and led them to try and re-inscribe biographical meaning back into the work of Georges Seurat. Indeed, though Seurat instituted a divide between his work and his life in a variety of ways, he also insisted throughout his career on his paternity over the neo-impressionist method. In all of these ways, the relationship between the self and art was a significant and problematic issue for the neo-impressionists and the critics around them.
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