Paul Signac was born in Paris. Signac was studying to be an architect up until he saw an exhibit of the works of Claude Monet. It was from that moment on that he devoted his life to painting. Besides Monet, Signac was very taken with the works of Georges Seurat. It was his style that Signac took to and followed. Pointillism was an artistic style originally begun by Seurat. Unhappy with Impressionism and Post Impressionism styles, Signac, followed by Seurat, took the loose brushwork and play of light and brought it one step further. Instead of the sweeping brush strokes that make up most of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from the time, Pointillism uses individual dots of paint from a fine brush to construct objects and settings. There is none of the broad batches of color found in earlier or later works, just individual specs of paint that when looked at from afar construct a beautiful painting with vivid colors.
One of Signac’s favorite subjects was the sea. Many of his paintings portray scenes of ships either in the harbor or sailing back to dock. More paintings show bridges and the shoreline, both in the city at harbors and on the rural coastline. An example of this is Venice, Sailing Boats. In this painting several boats sail about the harbor of Venice or are lashed to the walkways. The scene is full of the pinks, purples, blues and golds of sunrise, or perhaps sunset. This is a large difference in art of Signac and Seurat. Seurat’s work usually consists of very natural, earthy colors. Many of his paintings resemble posters as they are of parks and theater scenes. However, the paintings of Signac are colorful waterscape scenes. Another difference between the two founding Pointillism artists is that Signac doesn’t always use circular dots as his single points of paint that make up the entire picture. Dashes - tiny rectangles – are what Signac usually uses to compose his work, something that we rarely, if ever, observe in his friend Seurat’s work.
This can be seen in another of Signac’s works, View of Constantinople. In this painting large sailing ships are anchored in the harbor. Men in canoes paddle either to or from their ships in the pink glow of sunrise, or, perhaps, sunset. Constantinople itself is a blurry mass of buildings in the background, just another pink and purple haze against the same color sky. The dash technique which Signac uses is especially noticeable here.Signac helped to found an incredible new artistic style. Along with Seurat, he is responsible for bringing forth and developing Pointillism in the world. This new spin on Impressionism and Post Impressionism can also be referred to as Neo-Impressionism, though it really further developed that style and was something else entirely instead of the rehashing of a slightly older artistic style. Signac was a great turn of the century painter who, though somewhat overshadowed by Seurat in text books, is no less worthy of our praise.