Friday, November 08, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ Paul Signac, Félix Fénéon, Scorpio, Anarchy.

Paul Signac: born on 11 November 1863 in Paris, France into a family of prosperous shopkeepers, thanks to whom whom he had the luxury of financial independence. No starving artist in a lonely garret was he then! His original plan was to study architecture, but the French Impressionists caught his imagination, led him along a different career path. He's remembered for being one of the originators, along with Seurat, of the technique in art known as pointillism.

Politically he was an anarchist, as were many of his friends, including Félix Fénéon and Camille Pissarro.

When I called up a Google Image page of Signac's works one of them immediately caught my eye: a portrait of his friend, Félix Fénéon, influential critic, anarchist and champion of the avant-garde; "a kind of cultural terrorist" who may have been involved in actual terrorist acts. Fénéon worked in the War Ministry by day, but by night morphed into a bohemian and anarchist art critic.

His 1890 painting, above, is strangely titled Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon. The title refers to the combination of sounds, lines, and colors that symbolist artists drew upon to convey the inner world of their subjects. Signac suggests his subject's theatrical personality and creative energy as he strides across a stage to offer a flower to an unseen figure, against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of swirling colors. Signac is said to have based this design on a Japanese print. The stars in the lower right corner may be a reference to Fénéon's interest in the United States; the critic apparently cultivated a resemblance to Uncle Sam, complete with top hat and goatee.

The painting stood out for me because it seemed somehow 'out of time" among the rest of his works. It reminded me of some of the artwork around the time of the Beatles' heyday, in the 1960s. Signac died in 1935 by the way.

A quick look at Paul Signac's natal chart (see it here at

Updated with Signac's natal chart calculated using the Koch system rather than Placidus houses (see comment by mike below):

Wow! Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and north node of Moon all in Scorpio with Aries rising. Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, is opposing some of the Scorpio planets from Taurus. Venus and Saturn in artistic Libra, and Uranus, planet of the avant-garde in Gemini. Without knowing more about Signac's personality it's not possible to see how such a heavy load of Scorpio manifested. It doesn't appear to have done so in his paintings. Perhaps it emerged from his draw to anarchy, and anarchists then?

Félix Fénéon ( his natal chart is at astrotheme here)was of the same Uranus in Gemini generation, born 2 years before Signac. He's more of a Cancer/Pisces/Leo guy though. Possibly the Watery link (Scorpio/Cancer/Pisces) was their immediately felt compatible connection.


mike said...

I am aware of Signac's paintings, less so of Feneon's.

Signac's chart is remarkable for a number of reasons, but predominately for his being born about eight hours after a major solar eclipse (Node conj Sun conj Moon). A lot of first vs seventh house confluence...perhaps a difficult person, required relationships to understand himself, and-or sought admonition and approval.

Yes, quite a bit of synergy between Signac and Feneon in the Water Uranus-Saturn. Their synergy is excellent as friends and lovers (probably non-sexual?)...very strong bond. They did accomplish a lot together.

Signac's Société des Artistes Indépendants was an instrumental force for presenting new artists and charitable donations.

I no longer have use of my astrology software (boo hoo), but it would be interesting to see how Signac's house cusps would play-out in other house systems. I prefer Koch. I can tell just by looking that in an equal house system, his Sun-Moon-Node would be in his eighth house, with Jupiter right on the cusp. This is a signature of inherited wealth that played a huge role in his success. That would also put Pluto (ruler of his 8th) right on his second house cusp.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I've added Signac's chart with Koch houses. :-)

I didn't find anything much on Signac's personal life in adulthood.
He was VERY Scorpio, it'd be interesting to know what he was like personality wise, whether he fit textbook description of the sign!

mike (again) said...

Twilight, thanks for the Koch chart! I was too lazy to do my own on Astrodienst (

I found very little info on Signac, also. Most I could find was that he married, later abandoned the marriage amicably, but didn't divorce. He fathered a girl when he was fifty with his mistress. Ten years later, adopted the child for legal reasons. He sailed the seas and had a jolly good time! He had numerous residences in what we would call today, luxurious locales.

He wasn't like most artists that were ahead of their time waiting for the populace to catch-up to the artists' talents. Signac actually helped to popularize his and many other artists' works through his Société des Artistes Indépendants. That's what a little inherited money can do! He was extremely well connected through his parents' business, then on his own in later life. He was charitable...donated his works and raised money for several causes. He no doubt had a very good income from his art, too.

Several sources, but here are two references:

mike (again) said...

Oh, oh...omitted the second link:

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks for the links and additional biographical info on Signac. From the links it seems his anarchistic bent mainly translated as being anti-war and anti-fascist - good!
Not sure we'd call that anarchistic these days. :-) There aren't many wealthy upper class anarchists around in the USA, 2013, more's the pity.

Maybe the lack of more personal detail about his nature and personality is because nobody has yet written a detailed biography on him from diaries, letters, and journals. That's the only way of teasing out more intimate detail....or sometimes info comes via biographies of other artists and literary folk who had corresponded with him.

His depth Scorpioness has to remain unknown - and that is probably exactly as he would have wished. ;-)

mike (again) said...

The quotation attributed to him is a bit of an oxymoron. Anarchist painter does NOT equal anarchist pictures. I take it that he means one with an anarchist bent will demonstrate that objective via the painter's actions in the real world. His quote:

"The anarchist painter is not the one who will create anarchist pictures, but he who, without desire for recompense, will fight with all his individuality against official bourgeois conventions by means of a personal contribution."

Perhaps his personal life was shielded by his riches. He was a SUPER Scorpio, so privacy was probably paramount to him.

Twilight said...

mike ~ the way "anarchist" was used in France, back then, might have had a looser or subtly different slant, something lost in translation, or a "faded fashion statement" even used by the cool and beautiful people in 19th century France. Just surmising.

He sounds more like today's Libertarians, not wanting to be bound by rules, governments, laws.