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 Paul Victor Jules Signac  (1863 - 1935)

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About: Paul Victor Jules Signac
 

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: neo-Impressionist painting-pointillism, etching, ink sketches

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Paul Signac (Paul Victor Jules Signac) was one of the principal French neo-impressionist painters of his time.  He was initially influenced by Monet and later he closely associated himself with Georges Seurat in experimenting with the application of dots of color known as Pointillisim, which became the basis of Neo-Impressionism.

Paul Signac was born in Paris on November 11, 1863.  At 18 years old he left the field of architecture to pursue a career of painting.  He loved the subject matter of the outdoors and French Coast, and each summer left Paris to reside in the South of France in the village of Colliour or at St. Tropez, where he eventually bought a home and entertained his friends.  Signac traveled throughout Genoa, Florence and Naples.  He developed a love for sailing, which would lead him to ports throughout France to Holland and the Mediterranean, basing his boat in St Tropez.  While traveling he would sketch watercolors from various sites and return home to paint large canvases that carefully displayed small mosaic-like squares of color.  He worked in various media such as oil paintings, watercolors, etchings, lithographs and many pen-and-ink sketches composed of small dots.

In the second half of the 1880’s, he befriended Vincent Van Gogh, and through that union Van Gogh came in contact with Neo-Impressionisim.  The influence of this style can be seen in such Van Gogh’s painting as Courting couples in the Voyer d’Argenson Park in Asnieries.  In 1884 Signac met Claude Monet and George Seurat, and became one of the founders of the Salon des Independents.  While he was President of the Society from 1908 until his death in 1935, Signac encouraged younger artists (he was the first to buy a Matisse painting) by exhibiting the then controversial works of the Fauves and Cubists.  He and the neo-impressionists are credited with influencing the next generation of painters including Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, therefore contributing to the creation of Fauvism.  Some of his well known paintings include The Pine, Saint Tropez and Port St Tropez, The Jew and Saint Hitler.

Signac wrote several important works on the theory of art, among them From Eugene Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism,  an exposition on pointillisim, published in 1899, Jongkind (1819-1891) published in 1927 and several introductions to art exhibition catalogues.

Signac was 72 year old when he died in Paris.

 
Sources include:
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
The Grove Dictionary of Art

Wikipedia.org 

Biography from Anderson Galleries, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Paul Signac was a French neo-Impressionist painter, one of the originators of the technique known as Pointillism or Divisionism.  He came from an affluent family of shopkeepers and intended to study architecture but a visit to a Claude Monet exhibition inspired him to pursue an artistic career.

His early works show the influence of Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Armand Guillaumin, a close friend who also provided important encouragement to the artist.  In 1884, Signac was a founder-member of the Salon des Independants, where he met Georges Seurat who exhibited Bathers at Asnieres.  At the time of their meeting, Signac was practicing an orthodox form of Impressionism whereas Seurat was already a devotee of Divisionism.  Seurat's color theory seduced Signac by its rigour, which was in direct opposition to the instinctive approach of the Impressionists.  The two men pooled their research and greatly influenced each other's oeuvres and the evolution of pointillism.

Signac was also a talented draftsman, lithographer, and watercolorist.  Many of his exhibitions featured Pointilist oil paintings alongside looser, less methodical watercolors.  All of these works are unified in their quest to glorify the beauty of color. To Signac, color theory was of optimum importance and he promoted an aesthetic wherein the beauty of color was an end in itself.

Signac was also a very important art critic and historian.  His book, From Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism (1899), a summary of the ideas and theories of the movement, is a standard text on the subject.  He wrote an excellent study of Jongkind, a fine article on "The Subject in Painting" for a French encyclopedia, and other important articles and catalogue introductions.  His essays, books, and articles, in addition to his revolutionary art, inspired his contemporaries (i.e. Camille Pissarro, Vincent Van Gogh).

Signac also strongly influenced future artists Henri Matisse and Andre Derian, thus playing a decisive role in the evolution of Fauvism.  As president of the annual Salon des Independants 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.

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