Divisionist Painters at the National Gallery

Radical Light: Italy’s Divisionist Painters 1891-1910, to give the exhibition its full title. Divisionism is a style of painting where the image is built up of lots of individual brushstrokes of pure colour which, ideally, merge together for the viewer but create a more luminous effect than if the colours were blended on the palette.

Angelo Morbelli, 'In the Rice Fields', 1898-1901, © the owner

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s Pointillism under a different name. Apparently the Divisionists had heard about Pointillism and were inspired by it but hadn’t actually seen the paintings; they generally use long thin brushstrokes rather than the little dabs favoured by Seurat, but the principle is the same. Divisionism was also apprently an important stepping stone towards Futurism, the rather more famous Italian art movement.
 
I didn’t have very high expectations — I think obscure artistic movements are often obscure for a reason, I don’t like Seurat that much, and it got a bad review in Time Out — but, perhaps because of that, I enjoyed it. Some of the symbolist and political stuff had aged badly, but there were some really very likeable landscapes. Since the optical effect which is the whole point of Divisionism is destroyed by reproducing them as little jpegs, the pictures on the website don’t do them justice, but hey-ho.

» The picture above, taken from the exhibition website, is Angelo Morbelli’s ‘In the Rice Fields’, 1898-1901, © the owner

2 Comments

  1. Bill
    25 July 2008 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this, and for things in the past!
    There is much to like here.

  2. Harry
    25 July 2008 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Glad you liked it.

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