Georges Seurat made every-day activities extraordinary with his new pointillist technique. In this video, shot for The National Gallery's 'Courtauld Impressionists' exhibition, curator Anne Robbins explores his style of painting and the story behind the acquisition of ‘Bathers at Asnières.’
‘Bathers at Asnières’ (1884) is one of the most instantly recognisable and important paintings in the National Gallery collection. In this exhibition it was hung next to three paintings from Courtauld’s private collection including ‘Young Woman Powdering Herself’ (1888-90).
Seurat painted mundane subjects. In ‘Bathers at Asnières’ he depicts factory workers bathing in the Seine. It’s interesting to look at ‘Bathers’ in the context of the equally famous ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ (1884-86), which shows more affluent citizens on the bank of the other side of the river.
In the case of ‘Bathers at Asnières’ the sense of mundanity is at odds with the huge scale of the painting, which makes it incredibly striking.
In creating this particular video, we wanted to make the scale of ‘The Bathers’ clear to the audience, by featuring the curator in a wide shot with the painting looming large and then in a compressed long lens shot, with the curator’s upper body totally engulfed by the massive painting: two different ways to express the notion of scale.
We also were keen to illustrate Seurat’s developing technique of pointillism with close up detail shots, showing how the size and density of the dots evolved from one painting to the other.
At NextShoot we have experience in creating meaningful, provocative and inspiring video production for the arts sector. Our videos have been used to promote exhibitions through long-form and social media edits, have been featured as exhibition films in galleries (such as our documentary exhibition film for the National Gallery’s ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’
) and in educational content (our video series for the Louis Vuitton ‘Young Arts Project’
, for example).
View the case study for The National Gallery