Professor, Marnin Young: My name is Marnin Young. I'm Associate Professor and Chair of Art History at Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University, here in New York City. In the shade of a tree, we see a man picking a fig. A mother tantalizingly offers a fig to a young child. Two men play a game of boules, a French version of outdoor bowling.
All of this is meant to be a pastoral image of a future utopian community. Signac, he writes in his journal in 1902, "Justice in sociology. Harmony in art. The same thing." The couple at the center, for example, he says are, quote “free love” exclamation point. The rooster, which has long been a symbol of France, he saw as a kind of announcement - the crowing of a new dawn arising.
One of the great debates among anarchists around the time of the production of this painting involved the use of violence in the advocacy of anarchism. Fénéon and Signac were comrades. They believed in the same politics and they believed in the same art, but probably did not see eye to eye on the most effective way to advocate for their cause. So, where Fénéon thought that bomb-throwing might best advance the cause of anarchism, Signac saw this painting as a kind of alternative propaganda tool.