Back in my grad school days, I'd stroll down Michigan Avenue to go over to the Art Institute in Chicago whenever I had some free time.. Although I had covered the entire museum about a hundred times, one painting kept me coming back view every visit, without exception. The painting was Georges Seurat's Post-Impressionist "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grand Jatte." Since Seurat was an early adopter of pointillism, his paintings took on an ethereal quality. Pointillism was a technique that used very small dots of primary colors closely arranged, almost overlapping, that would create the illusion of a variety of secondary colors when observed from a distance. Seurat was probably the second painter, after DaVinci, that melded art with science, except that Seurat took his techniques to a level never before seen in art. He combined the science of such scholars as Chevreul, Newton, Helmholtz, and all of the Neoimpressionists, and was able to reproduce their theories on canvas brilliantly. His ideas were that one could use color to create harmony in a painting, much like a composer could use certain devices to create harmony in music. Seurat said that applying colors to a canvas follow the natural laws of science, much like Newton postulated his law of gravitation from the observation of a falling object.

I borrowed this passage from Wikipedia regarding Seurat's theories.

They said, "Seurat's theories can be summarized as follows: The emotion of gaiety can be achieved by the domination of luminous hues, by the predominance of warm colors, and by the use of lines directed upward. Calm is achieved through an equivalence/balance of the use of the light and the dark, by the balance of warm and cold colors, and by lines that are horizontal. Sadness is achieved by using dark and cold colors and by lines pointing downwards"

Looking at a work like Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon" can be an emotionally uplifting, beautiful, moving experience. One can get very close up and see the individual points of color, gently dabbed in a very painstaking way. Looking at the very close level makes one appreciate the sheer genius and talent that went into such a masterpiece. Moving 15 feet from the painting, and one is swept away by the magnificence of the entire drama and is allowed to see the entire picture. The whole painting is an illusion, created by nothing more than dots.

In the markets, we're sometimes hypnotized by watching every movement, tick by tick. The ticks, the inside market, can be compared to Seurats' individual tiny dots of primary color. Taken alone in a small sample, they have little meaning, but observed from a distance, a different time frame perhaps, they begin to show the complete picture. The market always tells you what it is doing at any given time, and sometimes even gives you a hint of what it is going to do. It is up to the speculators to connect the dots…pardon my pun.





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