Seurat knew many things, the sacred laws of common sense, which we neglect no doubt because they are too simple.

That it is not instinct that composes, but intellect; that instinct—genius—proposes and the lucid mind disposes, composes, translates the impulse, the imperfectly formed, sketchy need that we call inspiration….

A painter may intellectualize, and Seurat was not averse to doing so. But, ultimately, we know that certain works are possessed of that radiance, that sublimity, those resonances that no formula can measure, explain or dissect, but that we feel, that excite us, transport us, make us forget everything else. There are certain canvases by Seurat that have this magic.
—Amédée Ozenfant, in Cahiers d’Art, 1926

It was once commonplace for people—and very knowledgeable people, too—to speak...


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