Drawing Inspiration from Famous Artists, Paul Signac Arts Become a New Spin on Art
Paul Signac’s paintings can now be seen in many of the world’s finest art museums. Do you know anything about his life path? Below, you can learn about Paul Signac’s biography and the development of his successful artistic path.
The Artist’s Early Years and Education
Paul Signac was born into a poor family in Paris at the end of the 19th century. As we know from history, these were the last years of the final formation of modernism. As a child, the artist’s family moved to the Montmartre district. It was the most favorable thriving artistic environment of the time. The move influenced the young Signac’s outlook and instilled a love of avant-garde fine art culture.
From a young age, Paul Signac was attracted to the work of the innovative Impressionists. He loved visiting exhibitions and absorbing the aesthetics of Impressionism and pointillism. This was encouraged by his parents as well. At the age of 16, the young Signac visited the fifth Impressionist exhibition, where he became acquainted with the masterpieces of Claude Monet. As we know from his later bio, this had a significant impact on the later work.
In 1880, Signac’s father fell ill with tuberculosis. After his death, his mother sold the family business and the family moved to the Parisian suburb of Asnières. Signac studied well, but did not feel comfortable in the new place. He desperately dropped out of school and returned to Montmartre, where he rented a room and traveled constantly between Asnières and Paris.
There are many Paul Signac artworks made around Asnières. Many of Signac’s represented not only portraits but also paintings throughout his career depicting boats, for boating was one of his earliest and favorite hobbies. His first boat was a canoe, which the young man named “Manet Zola Wagner” in honor of his three idols, the famous avant-garde artists, writers, and composers.
During the time in Montmartre in his biography, Signac attended social events and made connections with artists, writers, musicians, and other cultural figures.
He participated in gatherings of naturalist writers and visited the homes of writers such as Robert Cazet. It was at such meetings that the critics Gustave Kahn and Félix Fénéon became his comrades. Many of the writers and critics he met in those early years became admirers of his work and style. In 1882, while still a keen writer, he wrote several satirical articles about the style of his idol Zola.
And from the beginning of the 1880s, Signac continued to attend exhibitions. Thus, in June 1880, at an exhibition of Monet’s work, it dawned on him that this particular exhibition was the turning point in his decision to pursue a career in dabs art. He was inspired by Monet’s style and by all the paintings made in nature, depicting even the most ordinary objects.
Beginning of Career
Paul Signac’s earliest paintings were painted in the winter of 1881–1882. He was then only 18 years old. In addition to his superficial training in painting, Signac was entirely self-taught. He independently studied and analyzed paintings by the famous Impressionists: Monet, Manet, Caillebotte and Degas.
One of his favorite places to paint was the city of Port-en-Bessen. At that time, the young Paul Signac as an artist had fully adopted the Impressionist style. By 1884, Signac had learned enough and was ready to present his work in the first exhibitions of innovators.
The connections made at the 1884 exhibition played a crucial role in his later career. And for the next three decades, society became a major force in revealing avant-garde artistic tendencies in its annual exhibitions.
The Blossoming of the Talented Artist’s Work
In 1884, Signac met the impressionist painter Armand Guillaume, and the following year, he met Camille Pissarro. Both Impressionist painters helped Signac with advice and support.
Signac then began to meet regularly with the painter Seurat, and together, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, shared a fascination with Michel-Eugène Chevreul’s theory of color in relation to art and aesthetics.
By December 1885, Signac, Seurat, and the other artists had consolidated their unique style, Neo-Impressionism. They presented their work in the new style at the eighth and last Impressionist exhibition. Despite the challenges that life threw at them, both exhibited their work, receiving positive reviews from critics. Thus, they established not only a successful working relationship, but also a close friendship.
Successful Career Period
Signac continued to favor landscapes, cityscapes, and other outdoor scenes, and his first exterior scenes in the style of divisionism, such as “Crossroads at Bois Colombe” and “The Passage du Puy-Bertin, Clichy” (1886).
In 1886 Signac met Vincent van Gogh and a friendly working relationship developed between the two artists, often traveling together and painting together. Signac is also known to have taught Vincent to paint in the Neo-Impressionist style.
Since Signac was very politically active, after his immersion in anarchism, his dabs paintings and political beliefs often overlapped, as in the case of his work entitled “In Times of Harmony” (1893).
Signac continued to paint in the Neo-Impressionist style and his brushes became freer, more expressive and more colorful.
The pace of Signac’s artistic creativity did not cease as he grew older. Even at the beginning of the twentieth century, Paul Signac continued to produce works of art, whether his watercolours, oil paintings, or drawings. In 1902, Paul Signac exhibited more than 100 of his famous paintings at the Maison Moderne in Paris. By 1911, watercolor had become his favorite technique, and he again exhibited a large series entitled Bridges of Paris at the prestigious Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, also in Paris.
Personal Life of Paul Signac
In November 1892, Signac married his longtime acquaintance, Berthe Robles. They celebrated their wedding in Montmartre, with artists Alexandre Lemonier, Maximilien Luce, Camille Pissarro and Georges Lecomte as witnesses. In 1897 the couple moved into an apartment in the famous modernist Château Beranger, and in the same year bought a house in the south of France, in Saint-Tropez. In the house in Saint-Tropez, Signac built a large studio, which was completed at the end of the summer of 1898.
It was there that the artist created some of Paul Signac’s most colorful and famous neo-impressionist and pointillism paintings, especially those depicting boats, beaches and seascapes. One of the most famous paintings of Paul Signac from this period is “The pink cloud”.
In September 1913 Signac rented a house in Antibes, where he settled with Jeanne Selmersch-Desgrange, who gave birth to their daughter Ginette on October 2, 1913. In the meantime, Signac left Bertha La Hune as well as an apartment in Castel Beranger, for they remained friends for the rest of his life.
On April 6, 1927, Signac adopted Ginette, his previously illegitimate daughter.
Death of an Artist
For Signac, to live is to paint, and to paint is to live. He never really stopped creating art, starting another series of his paintings depicting French ports in 1929.
Signac died on August 15, 1935, at the age of 71 from septicemia. The artist is buried in the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
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