Pointillism is a style of painting in which small distinct dots of color create the impression of a wide selection of other colors and blending. Aside from color "mixing" phenomena, there is the simpler graphic phenomenon of depicted imagery emerging from disparate points. Historically, Pointillism has been a figurative mode of executing a painting, as opposed to an abstract modality of expression.
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, Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Key (black). Televisions and computer monitors use a pointillist technique to represent images but with Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colors.
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.