Paul Victor Jules Signac was born in Paris on
November 11, 1863. He followed a course of training in architecturebefore deciding at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a painter. He sailed around the coasts of Europe, painting the landscapes he encountered. He also painted scenes of cities in France in his later years.
In 1884 he met
Claude Monetand Georges Seurat. He was struck by the systematic working methods of Seurat and by his theory of colours and became Seurat's faithful supporter. Under his influence he abandoned the short brushstrokes of impressionismto experiment with scientifically juxtaposed small dots of pure colour, 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 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 March 1889, he visited Vincent van Goghat Arles. The next year he made a short trip to Italy, seeing Genoa, Florence, and 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, basing his boat at St. Tropez, which he "discovered". From his various ports of call, Signac brought back vibrant, colourful 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 watercolours he made
etchings, lithographs, and many pen-and-ink sketches composed of small, laborious dots.The neo-impressionists influenced the next generation: Signac inspired Henri Matisseand André Derainin particular, thus playing a decisive role in the evolution of Fauvism.
As president of the
Société des Artistes Indépendantsfrom 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.
On November 7, 1892 Signac married Berthe Roblès at the town hall of the 18th district in Paris; witnesses at the wedding were
Alexandre Lemonier, Maximilien Luce, Camille Pissarroand Georges Lecomte.
In November 1897, the Signacs moved to a new apartment in the "Castel Béranger", built by
Hector Guimard, and a little later, in December of the same year, acquired a house in Saint-Tropezcalled "La Hune"; there the painter had a vast studio constructed, which he inaugurated on August 16, 1898.
In September 1913, Signac rented a house at
Antibes, where he settled with Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange, who gave birth to their daughter Ginette on October 2, 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 April 6, 1927, Signac adopted Ginette, his previously illegitimate daughter.
At the age of seventy-two, Paul Signac died on August 15, 1935 in Paris from septicemia. His body was cremated and, three days later, August 18, buried at the
Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Some of his well known paintings are: "The Pine, Saint Tropez" and "Port St. Tropez".
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.
* "Signac 1863-1935", Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 2001 ISBN 2-7118-4127-8
* The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1988, Volume 10, Micropædia, pg. 796
* [http://www.paul-signac.com/ Official website]
* "People's history": [http://libcom.org/history/signac-paul-1863-1935 Paul Signac] , a biography of the artist, with information about his anarchist politics
* [http://www.renoirinc.com/biography/artists/signac.htm Paul Signac biography] Renoir Fine Art Inc.
* [http://www.abcgallery.com/S/signac/signacbio.html Paul Signac biography] Olga's Gallery
* from the
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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