One of my favourite styles of art is that of Pointillism: a technique in which the artist uses dots of colour to create an overall image. Notable artists who have used this technique include Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Henri-Edmond Cross and Andy Warhol at the start of his career. But for me, the master of this style of paining is Paul Signac, one of its early pioneers.
It was Monet who inspired architect Paul Victor Jules Signac to start painting, after he attended an exhibition of the artist’s work in the 1880s. He embraced the Impressionist style, but when in 1884 he met Georges Seurat, he was inspired to abandon blended colours and experiment with large, confidently painted dots that, when viewed from paces back, would fuse into a scene. The result is paintings that are dizzying and meaningless when looked at closely, but are wonderfully colourful and vivid when admired from afar.
A Frenchman who was born in Paris, Signac travelled extensively around the world and his home country, painting scenes that inspired him. I am especially drawn to Signac’s works because many of them are set in the region where I have a home in the south of France, near St Tropez. The painting below is one example of his southern French works; this one depicts the port of St Tropez, a place I love to visit now. Signac kept a boat at the port, which he used for his travels around the Mediterranean. A Google Image search for ‘Paul Signac, St Tropez’ will provide a gallery of his other fine paintings.
Signac’s paintings form part of the neo-impressionist art movement, which was a break from Impressionism and was based on more modern urban scenes and landscapes and a more scientific approach to lines and colours. Signac’s work significantly influenced Henri Matisse; indeed, Signac was the first person to buy a Matisse painting and support the young artist.
It was an exciting day, then, for art collectors and experts when in 2010 a new Signac work was discovered at a hotel in Volendam, Holland. Apparently, Signac had given the painting to the hotel as payment for accommodation, and for years it had hung on a rusty nail in the lobby. How I’d love to have made that discovery!