Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"
If we had a dime for every time somebody asked us who our favorite pointillist painter is, we'd have… well, nothing. But we do know a pointillist painter thanks to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's Georges Seurat, a.k.a. the French artist who created "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," which is the painting that Cameron looks deep—like, really deep—into at the Art Institute of Chicago.
So what's up with all of the staring? Cameron spots himself in the painting, specifically in the little girl dressed all in white. The girl is holding her mom's had, but her mom isn't paying any attention to her, and the girl seems wounded. Whose parent-child relationship does that remind you of? Their clothing suggests that they're affluent, just like Cameron's clan. And then the camera starts zooming.
We zero in closer and closer on the little girl, and closer and closer on Cameron's eyes, until the little girl is reduced to just a group of dots, and there is no "girl" anymore. The increasingly tight shots on Cameron's baby blues reinforce his bond with her: He doesn't just identify with her pained little presence, he identifies with her absence, too. Cameron's sense of self has been annihilated by all of his anxieties. Seurat's massive pointillist masterpiece, therefore, signifies Cameron's lack of identity. He's just a collection of scattershot dots, too.