Grand Canal (Venise)

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Paul Signac, Grand Canal (Venise), 1905
By ISABEL THOMAS

Unlike artists in some other schools, the Post-Impressionists did not identify as a cohesive group. Art historians categorized them together because they painted at the same time in Paris. Although they did not work together, paintings by Post-Impressionists have some stylistic aspects in common. They focused primarily on form, so their figures are more defined than those of the Impressionists, even though the individual strokes have the same style. In addition to form, the Post-Impressionists utilized color, believing that it most effectively delivered a painting’s emotion. They willingly sacrificed realism for the aesthetic value of less-than-realistic colors.

Paul Signac uses water in his Grand Canal (Venise) to capture movement in his paint strokes. His utilization of color is the most striking part of the painting, though. He incorporates a multitude of pastel hues and uses the same colors in the sky, water, and building. Signac, a master of pointillism, does not allow his colors to mix on the canvas. Instead, he leaves the blending to the mind of his audience. More so than other paintings, Signac’s Grand Canal (Venise) changes with each viewer, because the color combinations belong to the individual imagination. Even with the painting’s undeniable harmony, the figures are clear and distinct. With the serenity and optimism of Grand Canal (Venise), Signac succeeds in the Post-Impressionistic goal of delivering power through color. Signac’s unifying colors present a coexistence of nature and man-made structures and make viewers feel, if only for a moment, as though the entire world is connected.


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