what is a sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte about
Seurat painted A Sunday Afternoon between May 1884 and March 1885, and from October 1885 to May 1886,  focusing meticulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original and completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He sat in the park, creating numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on issues of colour, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (7 by 10 feet) in size.
The painting is prominently featured in the 1986 comedy film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Such use is parodied, among others, in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Family Guy, and Muppet Babies.
The two main artistic traditions that dominated modern art during the second half of the nineteenth century – Realist painting and Impressionism – evolved from painters’ direct observation of the world around them. In contrast, Georges Seurat based his painting on the theories of Divisionism (a scientific interpretation of how the eye sees colour), pioneered by Michel Eugene Chevreul, Ogden Rood and others. The two large genre paintings that made his reputation – Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Bathers at Asnieres – are perfect examples of his ‘new’ Impressionism – although calling it after Monet’s style of spontaneous plein-air painting is rather misleading. Seurat worked mostly in his studio and planned his compositions with meticulous attention to detail. Indeed, for La Grande Jatte he made over seventy preliminary drawings and oil sketches. For more on the impact of Seurat’s Neo-Impressionsm, see Italian Divisionism (1890-1907). For more about the two main traditions, and how they related to each other, see: Realism to Impressionism (c.1830-1900).
Explanation of Other Modern French Paintings
After completing the painting in 1886, Seurat opted to exhibit it in the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition. While it was met with mixed reviews, it remained the artist’s most well-known work of art until (and after) his untimely death in 1891.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte depicts a typical outing for Parisians living in the 1880s. Facing the shimmering river and relying on umbrellas and trees for shade, they appear to enjoy a brief escape from city life, whether they’re lounging on the grass, fishing in the river, or even admiring the ambiance in the company of a pet monkey.
Individuals never did interest Seurat, only their formal elegance and the way they contributed to the overall perfect balance of the composition. As a result, this high class get-away for the Parisian community appears to be terrifyingly still – although we assume children would be running around and that dogs would be barking, the impression we receive is of silence, of control, of no disorder whatsoever. Even those who came to this mile-long island in pairs seem alone in their concise form.
Other than the little girl, all of the figures in A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte are cloaked in shadow, almost robbed of their identities.
In its remote location Seurat was able to capture an interesting glimpse of wealthy Parisian life in the 19th century. The painting sparked numerous interpretations and was criticized for being too mathematical. Upon its exhibition however, it was mostly heralded as a grand work of meticulous proportions.
The mix of white and green creates a halo like yellow in parts before it turns fully into green. Seurat’s technique in this regard directly matches the color wheel which influenced his work immeasurably. Here the color green blends into the color yellow as the lightest color on the wheel.