Paul Signac

Paul Signac was born in Asnières in 1863. The fourth Impressionist exhibition, where he discovers Caillebotte, Cassatt, Degas and Monet, is an upheaval for the young boy who is then sixteen years old. He wants to sit down and paint those he will admire for a long time. But Paul Gauguin sees him and kicks him out with these words: “no copying here, Monsieur”.

His mother, in adoration of the young boy, would have liked to make him an artist, but this first emotion did not remain without consequences and Signac left the Lycée to rent a studio in Montmartre. There he frequented the Symbolist writers whom he read and appreciated, and began a friendship as solid as it was lasting with Monet. His first participation in the Salon des Indépendants took place in 1884.

From then on, he regularly frequented Pissaro and Seurat, with whom he founded the group of the “Impressionists known as scientists”. He was indeed fascinated by the idea of a chromatic division of tone, according to scientific principles, whose unity is reconstructed by the eye of the spectator. Pointillism was born and put into practice for the first time in 1886. From then on, he became the leader of this new movement and sought to rally his contemporaries to it at all costs. Although Signac was easily able to create beautiful friendships with his entourage and was affable, his work of proselytism did not prevent him from being impartial towards the artistic positions of his friends. He was also very critical of the Nabis and the artistic credo of Maurice Denis.

Those whose ideals he shares are the symbolist poets. With them he seeks to unite the dreamlike vision of a lost paradise, a social utopia and that of total art. Seurat’s death weakens the pointillist movement. In 1899, Signac published the manifesto De Delacroix aux Impressionnistes to set out the positions of the movement and give it its letters of nobility. Until his death in 1935, he tirelessly painted the coasts of France according to this manifesto, and constantly strived to make his palette as colourful and luminous as possible.

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