In 1920, Italian critic and journalist Vittorio Pica (1862–1930) became Secretary General of the Venice Biennale. He is best remembered for bringing the staid art exposition forward into the twentieth century and greatly improving the quality the the art on exhibition. As these letters demonstrate, the painter Paul Signac (1863–1935) was a key partner in helping Pica attain his goals. In 1884, Signac, along with George Seurat, Odilon Redon, and Albert Dubois-Pillet, founded the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris. The group mounted annual exhibitions with no juries and no prizes. Their exhibitions of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist art were ground-breaking. When he took over the Biennale in 1920, Pica turned to Signac to help him secure the best French art of the recent past and the present day for Venice. By 13 February Signac was hard at work, but initial results were sketchy: Matisse, Vuillard, and others had not responded: Marquet was in Algeria; Redon's widow had promised to lend, but Signac cannot find out what pictures she will send; he hoped to secure Seurat's Cirque. Signac persevered and by 19 May he had assembled a group of 76 items, starting off with an impressive 23 Cézannes, and including 4 Seurats, 3 Matisses, 2 Bonnards, 2 Redons, 2 Marquets, and a Maillol. The exhibition was well received by the Italian and international public and by the French artists who exhibited. "Tous les camarades francais sont enchanté des beaux résultats de l'Exposition de Venise — Tous me chargent de vous adresser remerciments et compliments."
In July 1921, Signac reported on the current Salon des Indépendents: "Oh, oh! De Cézanne — le peinture par excellence — a Jacques Blanche. qui n'est meme pas un peintre, quelle chulé, mon ami Pica!" The correspondence continued until 1926, with talk of Paris exhibitions, French artists and art dealers.
A remarkable cache of letters demonstrating Signac's tireless work on behalf of French art.
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