Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Signac, Paul

Breakfast in the Dining Room
oil on canvas
89 x 115 cm
Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

Signac's oil painting "Breakfast in the Dining Room" (1887) echoes Seurat's "Sunday in the Park on the Island of Grande Jatte" (1884). The two most dominant women (the maid and the woman with the parasol) in these paintings are very similar in stature, placement on the canvas and appearance. This may lead one to believe that Signac and Seurat had a hand in each other's work, or the work of other lesser-known Pointillism students of the time.

Paul Signac (1863-1935) was a French neo-impressionist painter.He is one of the principal neoimpressionist painters worked with Georges Seurat in creating pointillism (or divisionism). He followed a course of training in architecture before deciding at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a painter after attending an exhibit of Monet's work.

Unlike Seurat, he had virtually no formal training; he taught himself to paint by studying the works of Claude Monet and others. After he and Seurat met, they developed their technique of painting with dots (points) of colour, which led to the name pointillism. As Signac explained, they used the pure impressionist palette but applied it in dots that were to be blended by the viewer's eye. What Signac called "muddy mixtures" were to be banished from painting and replaced by luminous, intense colours. Many of Signac's paintings are of the French coast. He loved to paint the water. He left the capital each summer, to stay in the south of France in the village of Collioure or at St. Tropez.

As president of the annual Salon des Independants (1908-34), Signac encouraged younger artists by exhibiting the controversial works of the Fauves and the Cubists. At the age of seventy-two, he died on 15 August 1935 in Paris from septicemia. His body was cremated and buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.