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He was born in Paris, 1863. Initially, he studied at a course training of architecture before deciding to pursue a career as a painter, inspired by an exhibit of Monet’s work at age 18. At 21, he met Claude Monet and Georges Seurat, the later which he became friends with, as well as supporter and heir to his methods on Post-Impressionism and Divisionism.
Seurat’s work profoundly influenced him, abandoning Impressionist short strokes to start experimenting on scientifically juxtaposed dots of pure pigment, not blending the colors on the canvas, but on the observer’s eyes. Such a technique was the defining characteristic of the Pointillist style.
In 1884, along with artists like Albert Dubois-Pillet and Odilon Redon, among others, Seurat was one of the founders of the Societé des Artistes Independants. The organization organized massive exhibitions, with a “No jury nor awards” perspective, based on the principle of abolishing the admission jury, allowing the artists to present their work with complete freedom to the viewer’s judgment. Their annual exhibition set trends for three decades to come.
Signac wrote an essay, d’Eugene Delacroix au Néo-Impressionnisme, in 1898, which inspired Henri Matisse to adopt the Divisionist technique. Later, he painter the proto-Fauve painting Luxe, Calme et Volupté, often considered his most important work, exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, the picture was made in a trip, alongside with Signac and was later bought by him. He was elected president of the 24th Salon des Indepéndants.
In Paris, 1888, Paul Signac met Vincent van Gogh, who admired Signac’s loose painting technique, a year later the two artists went regularly to Asnères-sur-Seine together, painting subjects as river landscapes and cafés.
He became in contact with anarchist ideas by reading Kropotkin, Elisee Reclus, and Jean Grave. He contributed with considerable financial support to Grave’s paper Les Temps Nouveaux (New Times), along with his friends Maximillien Lucille, Camille Pissarro, and Angrand Cross. Signac’s painting, In the Time of Harmony, was titled In the Time of Anarchy, initially, but was forced to change its title due to political repression towards anarchists that period in France.
From 1908 until his death, Signac was the president of the Societe des Artistes Independants. Occupying such post, the artist encouraged several young artists to exhibit controversial artworks by Cubist and Fauve artists. He was also the first person to buy an artwork by Henri Matisse.