AskDefine | Define pointillism

Dictionary Definition

pointillism n : a school of painters who used a technique of painting with tiny dots of pure colors that would blend in the viewer's eye; developed by Georges Seurat and his followers late in 19th century France

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. In art, the use of small areas of color to construct an image.



Extensive Definition

Pointillism is a style of painting in which small distinct points of primary colors create the impression of a wide selection of secondary and intermediate colors.
The technique relies on the perceptive ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to mix the color spots into a fuller range of tones and is related closely to Divisionism, a more technical variant of the method. It is a style with few serious practitioners and is notably seen in the works of Seurat, Signac and Cross. The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works of these artists and is now used without its earlier mocking connotation.
The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the more common methods of blending pigments on a palette or using the many commercially available premixed colors. Pointillism is analogous to the four-color CMYK printing process used by some color printers and large presses, and to a lesser degree to computer monitors and television sets which use tiny dots of primary red, green, and blue to render color.
Neuroplasticity is a key element of observing a pointillistic image. While two individuals will observe the same photons reflecting off a photorealistic image and hitting their retinas, someone whose mind has been primed with the theory of pointillism will see a very different image as the image is interpreted in the visual cortex.


If red, blue and green light (the additive primaries) are mixed, the result is something close to white light. The brighter effect of pointillist colours could rise from the fact that subtractive mixing is avoided and something closer to the effect of additive mixing is obtained even through pigments.
The painting technique used to perform pointillistic color mixing is at the expense of traditional brushwork which could be used to delineate texture.
Pointillism also refers to a style of 20th-century music composition, used by composers like Anton Webern.


pointillism in Bulgarian: Поантилизъм
pointillism in Catalan: Divisionisme
pointillism in Czech: Pointilismus
pointillism in German: Pointillismus
pointillism in Spanish: Puntillismo
pointillism in French: Pointillisme
pointillism in Galician: Puntillismo
pointillism in Croatian: Poentilizam
pointillism in Indonesian: Pointillisme
pointillism in Italian: Puntinismo
pointillism in Hebrew: פוינטיליזם
pointillism in Hungarian: Pointillizmus
pointillism in Dutch: Pointillisme
pointillism in Japanese: 点描
pointillism in Norwegian: Pointillisme
pointillism in Polish: Puentylizm
pointillism in Portuguese: Pontilhismo
pointillism in Romanian: Pointillism
pointillism in Russian: Пуантилизм
pointillism in Serbian: Поентилизам
pointillism in Finnish: Pointillismi
pointillism in Swedish: Pointillism
pointillism in Vietnamese: Pha màu theo phép xen kẽ
pointillism in Turkish: Noktacılık
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