Georges-Pierre Seurat, Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte, 1884-1886
I have young nephews visiting. It seemed on this blistering hot day that a day at Ontario Beach Park would be a good way to burn off some of their energy. They went swimming and I sat in the shade sketching.
As they strolled slowly along the boardwalk between the bathhouse and the jetty, my neighbors reminded me powerfully of Seurat’s Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte).
|The boardwalk at Ontario Beach Park.|
Seurat saw women with parasols; I saw a woman wearing a leopard-print micro-bikini, her hair dyed an impossible neon pink. Seurat depicted a pet monkey on a leash; we saw beach volleyball. Seurat’s Parisians were uniformly white; my fellow Rochesterians come from all corners of the globe.
Georges-Pierre Seurat, Une baignade à Asnières, 1884-1887. Today we swim in mixed company in far skimpier outfits, and then some of us amble over to Abbott's for ice cream in the same outfits, or lack thereof.
But the most striking difference is that Americans display considerably more tattoos and less clothing than holiday-makers on the Île de la Jatte 130 years ago. It’s not just a question of too much flesh on display as too much flesh overall. There's nothing erotic about it; in fact, it is almost the antithesis of eroticism.