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“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Seurat will return to the Art Institute with a new setting – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) – This is one of the most recognizable paintings of all time – “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.

Seurat painted the masterpiece from 1884 to 1886 and first arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago almost a century ago.

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The painting is currently being restored and reframed. CBS 2 photographer Scott Wilson got a behind-the-scenes look at the meticulous retouching of a masterpiece.

“For the Art Institute, it’s a destination work,” said Gloria Groom, curator of the Art Institute. “Chicago has always been fortunate to have incredible collectors. When they see it, they can’t believe they are seeing the real thing.

Groom said the paint is “the centerpiece of our modern collection”.

“An incredible acquisition – it was very avant-garde; very astute, ”said Art Institute associate conservator Kirk Buillemot. “You know, I think the Paris government would love to take it back.”

Groom said that “La Grande Jatte” is also “a perfect kind of social distancing painting”.

“You can see that all of these people are with their pod, but they are not near the other people,” she said.

The Art Institute notes on its website that “La Grande Jatte” was initially criticized by critics, who used words such as “heartbreak”, “scandal” and “hilarity”.

But it has of course become recognized as Seurat’s greatest work.

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“With what looks like scientific precision, the artist has tackled questions of color, light and form. Inspired by research in optics and color theory, he juxtaposed tiny pops of color which, thanks to optical mixing, form a unique hue and, according to him, more brilliantly luminous ”, declared the Art Institute on its site Web. “To make the painting experience even more intense, he surrounded the canvas with a frame of painted dashes and dots, which he in turn enclosed in a pure white wooden frame, similar to the one with which the painting is exhibited today. . “

Today, the Art Institute has the opportunity to give painting a new framework.

“The Art Institute has always faced the problem: how Seurat would have liked to see the painting presented,” said Buillemot, who constructs the frame.

The new frame, Groom said, “will be a much closer frame to what the artist would have put on it.”

“With Seurat, what’s so humiliating is that everything is on its terms, and whatever you do is going to affect the paint,” Buillemot said. “Hopefully we’ll just have something that lives peacefully on the side – doesn’t get in the way of the painting – and just lets you enjoy what’s inside the frame.”

“La Grande Jatte” was purchased by art collector and Art Institute administrator Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1924 – more than 30 years after Seurat’s death – and loaned it to the museum. He left the museum exactly once in the next 98 years for an appearance in 1958 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City – where he escaped damage when a fire broke out at that museum.

“La Grande Jatte” was also, of course, the inspiration for the 1984 Broadway musical “Sunday in the Park with George” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

“La Grande Jatte” will be back on the bill next Thursday. If you want to go see it, know that the Art Institute has strict COVID rules in place.

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You need proof of vaccination, non-members must purchase tickets in advance, and everyone must wear a mask.


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