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Paul Signac

Paul Signac

Overview

Paul Signac (11 November 1863 – 15 August 1935) was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 neo-impressionist
Neo-impressionism
Neo-impressionism was coined by French art critic Félix Fénéon in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Seurat’s greatest masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, marked the beginning of this movement when it first made its appearance at an exhibition...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist
Pointillism
Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works...

 style.




Paul Victor Jules Signac was born in Paris on 11 November 1863. He followed a course of training in architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 before deciding at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a painter after attending an exhibit of Monet's work.
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Paul Signac (11 November 1863 – 15 August 1935) was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 neo-impressionist
Neo-impressionism
Neo-impressionism was coined by French art critic Félix Fénéon in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Seurat’s greatest masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, marked the beginning of this movement when it first made its appearance at an exhibition...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist
Pointillism
Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works...

 style.

Biography





Paul Victor Jules Signac was born in Paris on 11 November 1863. He followed a course of training in architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 before deciding at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a painter after attending an exhibit of Monet's work. He sailed around the coasts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, painting the landscapes he encountered. He also painted scenes of cities in France in his later years.

In 1884 he met Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

 and Georges Seurat. He was struck by the systematic working methods of Seurat and by his theory of colors and became Seurat's faithful supporter. Under his influence he abandoned the short brushstrokes of impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 to experiment with scientifically juxtaposed small dots of pure color, intended to combine and blend not on the canvas but in the viewer's eye, the defining feature of pointillism.

Many of Signac's paintings are of the French coast. He loved to paint the water. He left the capital each summer, to stay in the south of France in the village of Collioure or at St. Tropez, where he bought a house and invited his friends.

In 1886 Signac met Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. In 1887 the two artists regularly went to Asni%C3%A8res-sur-Seine together, where they painted such subjects as river landscapes and cafés. Initially, Van Gogh chiefly admired Signac’s loose painting technique. In March 1889, Signac visited Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

 at Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

. The next year he made a short trip to Italy, seeing Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, and Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

.

Signac loved sailing and began to travel in 1892, sailing a small boat to almost all the ports of France, to Holland, and around the Mediterranean as far as Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, basing his boat at St. Tropez, which he "discovered". From his various ports of call, Signac brought back vibrant, colorful watercolors, sketched rapidly from nature. From these sketches, he painted large studio canvases that are carefully worked out in small, mosaic-like squares of color, quite different from the tiny, variegated dots previously used by Seurat.

Signac himself experimented with various media. As well as oil paintings and watercolor
Watercolor painting
Watercolor or watercolour , also aquarelle from French, is a painting method. A watercolor is the medium or the resulting artwork in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle...

s he made etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

s, lithographs
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

, and many pen-and-ink sketches composed of small, laborious dots.
The neo-impressionists influenced the next generation: Signac inspired Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and André Derain
André Derain
André Derain was a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse.-Early years:...

 in particular, thus playing a decisive role in the evolution of Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

.

As president of the Société des Artistes Indépendants
Société des Artistes Indépendants
—The Société des Artistes Indépendants formed in Paris in summer 1884 choosing the device "No jury nor awards" . Albert Dubois-Pillet, Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were among its founders...

 from 1908 until his death, Signac encouraged younger artists (he was the first to buy a painting by Matisse) by exhibiting the controversial works of the Fauves and the Cubists
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

.

Signac served as a juror with Florence Meyer Blumenthal
Florence Meyer Blumenthal
Florence Meyer Blumenthal was a philanthropist who founded the Fondation franco-américaine Florence Blumenthal , which awarded the Prix Blumenthal from 1919-1954 to painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians — to promote Franco- American relations.For their altruism,...

 in awarding the Prix Blumenthal
Prix Blumenthal
The Prix Blumenthal was a grant or stipend awarded through the philanthropy of Florence Meyer Blumenthal — and the foundation she created, Fondation franco-américaine Florence Blumenthal — to discover young French artists, aid them financially, and in the process draw the United States...

, a grant given between 1919-1954 to painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians.

Private life



On 7 November 1892 Signac married Berthe Roblès at the town hall of the 18th district in Paris; witnesses at the wedding were Alexandre Lemonier, Maximilien Luce
Maximilien Luce
Maximilien Luce was a French Neo-impressionist artist. A printmaker, painter, and anarchist, Luce is best known for his pointillist canvases. He grew up in the working class Montparnasse, and became a painter of landscapes and urban scenes which frequently emphasize the activities of people at work...

, Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas . His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as he was the only artist to exhibit in both forms...

 and Georges Lecomte
Lecomte
Lecomte was an Olympic archer who represented France in the 1900 Summer Olympics. He took part in the Au Cordon Doré at 50 metres competition taking eighth place with a score of 25 points, six points behind the leader, Henri Hérouin.-See also:...

. In November 1897, the Signacs moved to a new apartment in the Castel Béranger, built by Hector Guimard
Hector Guimard
Hector Guimard was an architect, who is now the best-known representative of the French Art Nouveau style of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries....

, and a little later, in December of the same year, acquired a house in Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez is a town, 104 km to the east of Marseille, in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France. It is also the principal town in the canton of Saint-Tropez....

 called La Hune; there the painter had a vast studio constructed, which he inaugurated on 16 August 1898.

In September 1913, Signac rented a house at Antibes
Antibes
Antibes is a resort town in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France.It lies on the Mediterranean in the Côte d'Azur, located between Cannes and Nice. The town of Juan-les-Pins is within the commune of Antibes...

, where he settled with Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange, who gave birth to their daughter Ginette on 2 October 1913. In the meantime Signac had left La Hune as well as the Castel Beranger apartment to Berthe: they remained friends for the rest of his life. On 6 April 1927, Signac adopted Ginette, his previously illegitimate daughter.

At the age of seventy-two, Paul Signac died on 15 August 1935 in Paris from septicemia
Sepsis
Sepsis is a potentially deadly medical condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state and the presence of a known or suspected infection. The body may develop this inflammatory response by the immune system to microbes in the blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues...

. His body was cremated and, three days later, 18 August, buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France , though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs.Père Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement, and is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the...

.

Painter



Some of his well known paintings are: The Bonaventure Pine, Saint Tropez , Port St. Tropez and, The Papal Palace.

Writer


Signac left several important works on the theory of art, among them From Eugène Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism, published in 1899; a monograph devoted to Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891), published in 1927; several introductions to the catalogues of art exhibitions; and many other still unpublished writings.

Politically he was an anarchist, as were many of his friends, including Félix Fénéon and Camille Pissarro.

External links