Musée d'Orsay: 48/14, La revue du musée d'Orsay, issue # 12, Spring 2001

48/14, La revue du musée d'Orsay, issue # 12, Spring 2001

48/14, La revue du musée d'Orsay (1995-2011)
Collectif, Henri Loyrette, direction
Neo-impressionism and social art
Musée d'Orsay / Réunion des musées nationaux - 2001
soft cover
€ 11 - available

Actualités (News)


  • Italies
  • Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • Carlo Bugatti
  • Signac
  • Une grande donation au musée d'Orsay

Nouvelles acquisitions

Etudes (Research)

Au Temps d'Arnarchie
by Philippe Oriol.
At the very end of the XIXth century, anarchism was in its glory. After Proudhon defined it in 1840, anarchism came into existence with the First International Working Men's Association which marked the final break up with its "closest foe", Marxism. But it only was during the decade of 1890-1900 that anarchism brought about real hopes for some and provoked fear and danger for others. Many writers and painters of the avant-garde converted to anarchism, they became its heralds or more simply its actors. The history of Neo-Impressionism is closely linked to anarchism.

Colour harmony and social harmony
by Georges Roque.
The Neo-Impressionists repeatedly insisted on the methodic procedures at work in their paintings. But this "scientific impressionism", as Pissaro called it, did not merely consist in ordering and controlling colours so as to secure a greater visual efficiency, but through the harmony of pure colours and the optical blend, it also had social and political implications which are highlighted by Georges Roque through a fresh reading of texts by Seurat and Signac as well as of their acknowledged sources (La Grammaire des arts du dessin by Charles Blanc, and so on).

Signac and the landscapes of social art
by Robert L. Herbert.
Is it possible to make social art without confusing painting and activism, without transforming autonomous art into political propaganda? Such was the dilemma the Neo-Impressionists had to face when they were asked to contribute to the anarchist struggle. Robert L. Herbert shows how pure landscapes enabled them to meet apparently incompatible requirements. As early as the 1830's, when romantic landscape and political contestation became closely linked, preserved environments became the symbol of a social ideal and a freedom to fight for. Signac followed in Théodore Rousseau's tracks.

Au Temps d'Harmonie: a committed work
by Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon.
Au Temps d'Harmonie is Signac's largest painting and that which is most explicitly committed to the ideals of anarchism. Seurat had already paved the way in his ironic painting of the bourgeois way of life. But it was during the murderous wave of bombings that Signac began his large work, first entitled Au Temps d'Anarchie. It was in 1895, in response to the bombings, that Signac offered the peaceful representation of a society happily combining gratifying labour and free love, nature and machines. This new Arcadia slowly took on the colours of the Eden of Saint-Tropez.

French Neo-Impressionism and Italian Divisionism
by Gabriella Belli.
In 1886, Seurat caused a sensation with the exhibition of his Grande Jatte. Fénéon immediately encapsulated its pictorial originality in an expression that became famous, Neo-Impressionism. At the same time when Neo-Impressionism came into existence in Paris, Italian Divisionism appeared in the work of Segantini, and notably in the second version of Ave Maria. Gabriella Belli studies the common and diverging characteristics of these two aesthetics of light, both of which shared the desire to use in the field of painting the scientific discoveries that had been made in optics.


Texts by Paul Signac:

  • Variétés. Impressionnistes & révolutionnaires (La Révolte, 13 June 1891)
  • Une Trouvaille (Le Chat Noir, 11 February 1882)
  • Une Crevaison (Le Chat Noir, 25 March 1882)
  • Signac by Félix Fénéon (Les Hommes d'aujourd'hui, 1890, nb 373)
  • The inventary of the Lévy-Dhurmer fund is available to the public


Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

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