Late Neo-Impressionism

Following the death of Georges Seurat in 1891 and the subsequent relocation of Henri-Edmond Cross and Paul Signac to Mediterranean France, much of the movement's homogeneity dissolved. While many of the original Neo-Impressionists went on to do other things and abandoned Divisionism, there was a strong regrouping of new talent around Signac, Neo-Impressionism's unofficial new voice. Exploration of the aesthetic possibilities offered by Divisionism continued, the light and atmosphere of the Provençal coast in the south of France now imposing its own pictorial properties.

In the work of Signac, Cross and Luce, colour palettes intensified in response to the light and local colour. Importantly,  they began to compose their paintings from larger 'touches' of paint, loosening the geometric constraints of the Divisionist 'dots' which the earlier technique had imposed, in favour of a more expressive touch.  In 1897 Signac wrote in his diary: 'I attach more and more importance to the purity of touch … and its maximum intensity; it is this love of beautiful colour which makes us paint like this and not a liking for the point (dot)'. Brushstrokes increasingly took on the appearance of tessera (the small wedges of glass or stone from which mosaics are created), so that their paintings shimmered like mosaics. The more insistent presence of brushstrokes reduced the effect of both perspective and illusionism, so that the paintings became more abstract, influencing the trajectory of twentieth century art, and shaping artists such as Matisse (who worked alongside Signac in 1904) and Italian Futurists like Ballà.

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