Thursday, 22 May 2008

Signac on painting subjects

This article was first published in my newsletter "Notes From My French Easel" – April 2008. [Note: This newsletter is not published anymore]

Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mère), Marseilles, 1905–6
Paul Signac (French, 1863–1935)
Oil on canvas; 35 x 45 3/4 in. (88.9 x 116.2 cm) - Gift of Robert Lehman, 1955 (55.220.1)

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Signac was asked to write an article for the « Encyclopédie française » on « the subject in painting ». The artist’s views on this topic are well summarized by this quote:

«There is no good subject for a painter. In a painting, the subject should go unnoticed, like the style in a novel. Picturesque goes out of fashion; only the pictorial element does not go out of fashion. » (Paul Signac)

Who was Paul Signac?

Paul Signac (born in Paris on November 11, 1863 - died on August 15, 1935 in Paris) was part of the neo-impressionist mouvement together with Georges Seurat. He used the division of colours in his paintings and explained the theory behind pointillism in his book "From Delacroix to neo-impresionism". He became president of the Société des Artistes Indépendants (Society of Indepenent Artists) in 1908 and kept this tenure until his death.

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