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Paul Signac Biography

He started his artistic career in 1880 after seeing an exhibit of Monet’s work. A camaraderie with Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat led him to embrace the newest Divisionist style in such works as “The Dining Room,” “Women in the Well” and several seascapes of the French shore. Signac was dedicated to anarchist politics and was a mentor to younger avant garde artists, including Henri Matisse. His family, who were wealthy shopkeepers, supported him to study architecture. Nevertheless, his early fascination with painting continued into his young adulthood, and he left school in 1880 after seeing an exhibit of Claude Monet’s work.

Dedicating himself to an artistic vocation, Signac took lessons with artist Emile Bin in the bohemian Paris area of Montmartre. His first painting was dated 1881. His early works were brilliant landscapes of the Paris suburbs, painted outside; they demonstrated the influence of Monet, Sisley along with other Impressionist artists. He greatly respected Seurat’s painting “Bathers at Asnires” (1884), and started to share Seurat’s interest in new painting techniques that improved the principles of Impressionism.

Both artists painted having a technique that came to be called Divisionism or Pointillism: They applied little dabs of extreme colour closely together around the canvas, using contrasting colors that seemed to unite and shimmer when seen from a distance. Two of Signac’s most important paintings in the Divisionist fashion are “The Dining Room” (1886 87) and his portrait of Flix Fnon (1890), which put the art critic and dealer against an abstract backdrop of swirling designs.

From 1884 to 1895, Signac was a part of the annual group exhibition of the Salon des Artistes Indpendants. He made another significant camaraderie around this same time, with Post Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. Starting in the 1890s, Signac composed articles on artwork. He also composed the novel From Delacroix to Neo Impressionism (1899), a treatise on Neo Impressionism that put the movement in a historic context.

Signac was an enthusiastic sailor and appreciated traveling. He spent summers in various areas of France, from Brittany to the Mediterranean Coast. He also made trips to Switzerland, Italy as well as the Netherlands. In 1891, saddened by the passing of Seurat, Signac left Paris, moving to Saint Tropez on the French Riviera. Signac continued to paint in a Pointillist or Divisionist fashion in works like “Women at the Well” (1892). His painting “The Wreckers” (1897 99), revealing a laborer working with a pickaxe, may reference his wish to ruin old ways of life so that you can establish better social states.

In his late career, Signac started working from memory and from his imagination instead of from direct observation. He used looser brushwork and more comprehensive touches of paint, and he started to make numerous watercolors and drawings. As an old artist, Signac directed younger painters who have been starting their livelihood. He was a friend and mentor to Henri Matisse, who seen him in Saint Tropez on the French Riviera in 1904. He also became an art collector, amassing an assortment of some 250 works.

Although Signac was supported by several significant art critics because the 1880s, he failed to get approval from the bigger art world or people before the turn of the century. His first one man exhibition was held in a gallery in Paris in 1901. In 1913, Signac split from his own wife, Berthe (Robls) Signac, and moved to Antibes with his mistress, Jeanne Selmershein-Desgranges, as well as their daughter, Ginette. His paintings are actually possessed by leading museums, galleries and private art collections all over the world.

Paul Signac Biography