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.
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