A leader in neo-impressionism, Signac is also recognized as the master of watercolor, a genre to which he devoted himself during the last fifteen years of his life, with the sea at the center of his work …
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Signac painted in the Impressionist manner until his meeting with Seurat, a capital turning point in his work. The following year he met Pissarro and Félix Fénéon, an art critic and the future aditor of La Revue Blanche and inventor of the term Néo-Impressionism – the movement of which both Seurat and Signac were the ultimate representatives.
As early as 1886 he adopted the divisionist technique and helped it to evolve. He developed his large oil compositions in the workshop and progessively evolved towards watercolours to which he eventually dedicated himself entirely.
The sea occupies the major role is his work. A sailor at heart, he owned 32 boats over the course of his life. In 1892 he adopted the port of Saint Tropez which he painted from on board his boat.
Marked by Japanese prints unitl 1900, he underlined his dots with a black line. From 1902 onwards, his watercolours prefigured fauvism and the liberation of colour which Matisse, under the influence of Signac and Cross, continued.
If he remained faithful to rigourous divisionism in his oils, his watercolours gave free reign to his natural vivacity. He virtuously painted the changing universe of port life and the lapping of the sea. As unique drafts, watercolours leave no room for mistakes but do allow for freer and more spontaneous fragmentation. His collection of watercolours, the diary of a tireless traveller, a complete tour of France’s ports is, in itself, a monument. He is a Master of this genre.
“Paul Signac” at the Grand-Palais – Paris
“Signac le marin” at Galerie de la Présidence
2011 “Signac les ports de France” in the Musée Malraux in Le Havre then in the Piscine-musée d’art et d’industrie André Diligent in Roubaix.
Paul Signac (1863-1935) : Lumière du Midi
Musée Yves Brayer, Les Baux-de-Provence
From May 19th to September 2nd 2018
Galerie de la Présidence lends works to this exhibition.