Paul Signac began as an Impressionist, influenced predominantly by Claude Monet but, in 1884, he, Henri Cross, Odilon Redon and Georges Seurat founded the Indépendants. The Indépendants organized primarily to arrange exhibitions of their own works which had been rejected by the Impressionists-dominated official salons. The Neo-Impressionists, as the Indépendants came to be known, had a manner of seeing which was more precise and formally organized than their forerunners. They were meticulous in their approach to the subject, making many studies and sketches before painting the final work. In this way, they were opposed to the Impressionists who tried to catch the spirit of the moment only.The Neo-Impressionists were influenced by the growing interest in science and technology at the end of the nineteenth century, and particularly by such theorists as Rood and Chevreul. Rood and Chevreul held that light and color are carefully controlled by specific laws based on the juxtaposition of two colors. The interaction between two colors produces a third, in the eye of the viewer, more intense than anything then available from paint dealers. Colors applied in small dots would build up forms by their mass and coloristic interaction.Signac had been a pointillist for nearly two years when he painted the Boulevard de Clichy.
Dots of paint applied with great precision create the forms depicted in this scene, a setting probably near Signac's studio. In it, Signac caught the atmospheric stillness of a snowy day. A flat light banishes all deep shadows. This painting is a document of the founding years of Neo-Impressionism.Referenced Work of Art
- Paul Signac, French, 1863-1935. Boulevard de Clichy, 1886. Oil on canvas, 18” x 25 3/4”. Signed lower left: P. Signac. Accession 61.36.16.CollectionsMme. Paul Signac, Paris; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 19 December, 1955; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ExhibitedBrussels, Les Vignistes, 1894.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Les Pointillistes, Signac, Cross, 1906.