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Paul Gauguin, 1891
Birth Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin name
7 June 1848 Born Paris, France
8 May 1903 (aged 54)
Died Atuona, Marquesas Islands, French
Field Painting, sculpture, ceramics, engraving
Movement Post-Impressionism, Primitivism
Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Georges Influenced Braque
A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes that he has got the biggest piece.
A hint - don't paint too much direct from nature. Art is an abstraction! Study nature then brood on it and treasure the creation which will result, which is the only way to ascend towards God - to create like our Divine Master
Art is either plagiarism or revolution
Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?
But I owe something to Vincent, and that is, in the consciousness of having been useful to him, the confirmation of my own original ideas about painting. And also, at difficult moments, the remembrance that one finds others unhappier than oneself.
Civilization is what makes you sick
Concentrate your strengths against your competitor's relative weaknesses
I have always wanted a mistress who was fat, and I have never found one. To make a fool of me, they are always pregnant
I shut my eyes in order to see
I wished to suggest by means of a simple nude, a certain long-lost barbaric luxury
In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited the epithet of revolutionary; and it is they alone who are masters
In art, one idea is as good as another. If one takes the idea of trembling, for instance, all of a sudden most art starts to tremble. Michelangelo starts to tremble. El Greco starts to tremble. All the Impressionists start to tremble
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block
Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge
Life has no meaning unless one lives it with a will, at least to the limit of one's will. Virtue, good, evil are nothing but words, unless one takes them apart in order to build something with them; they do not win their true meaning until one knows how to apply them
Life is hardly more than a fraction of a second. Such a little time to prepare oneself for eternity!
Many excellent cooks are spoilt by going into the arts
Nothing so resembles a daub as a masterpiece.
Oh yes! he loved yellow, this good Vincent, this painter from Holland - those glimmers of sunlight rekindled his soul, that abhorred the fog, that needed the warmth
Stressing output is the key to improving productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite
The flat sound of my wooden clogs on the cobblestones, deep, hollow and powerful, is the note I seek in my painting
The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art's audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public
There is always a heavy demand for fresh mediocrity. In every generation the least cultivated taste has the largest appetite
We never really know what stupidity is until we have experimented on ourselves
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (French pronunciation: [øˈʒɛn ãˈʁi ˌpol ɡoˈɡɛ！]; 7 June
1848 – 8 May 1903) was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an
important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker,
ceramist, and writer. His bold experimentation with coloring led directly to the Synthetist style of modern art while his expression of the inherent meaning of
the subjects in his paintings, under the influence of the cloisonnist style, paved
the way to Primitivism and the return to the pastoral. He was also an influential
proponent of wood engraving and woodcuts as art forms.
; 1 Biography
; 2 Artistic career
o 2.1 Cloisonnism and Synthetism
; 3 Historical significance
o 3.1 Gauguin and Van Gogh
; 4 Legacy
; 5 List of paintings
; 6 Gallery
; 7 Self-portraits
; 8 See also
; 9 Further reading and sources
; 10 References
; 11 External links
He was born in Paris, France, to journalist Clovis Gauguin and Alina Maria
Chazal, daughter of the half-Peruvian proto-socialist leader Flora Tristan, a
feminist precursor. In 1849 the family left Paris for Peru, motivated by the
political climate of the period. Clovis died on the voyage leaving
eighteen-month-old Paul, his mother, and sister, to fend for themselves. They lived for four years in Lima with Paul's uncle and his family. The imagery of Peru would later influence Gauguin in his art. It was in Lima that Gauguin encountered his first art. His mother admired Pre-Columbian pottery; – Inca
pots that some colonists dismissed as barbaric, she collected. And one of
Gauguin's few early memories of his mother was of her wearing the traditional costume of Lima, one eye peeping from beneath the mysterious one-eyed veil, her manteau, that all women in Lima went out in. "Gauguin was always drawn to women with a 'traditional' look. This must have been the first of the colourful
female costumes that were to haunt his imagination."
At the age of seven, Gauguin and his family returned to France. They moved to Orléans to live with his grandfather. The Gauguins came originally from around the town and were market gardeners and greengrocers — gauguin
means 'walnut-grower'. His father had split with family tradition to become a
journalist in Paris. He soon learned French, though his first and preferred language remained Peruvian Spanish, and he excelled in his studies. After attending a couple of local schools he was sent to a Catholic boarding school in La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, which he hated. He spent three years at the
school. At seventeen, Gauguin signed on as a pilot's assistant in the merchant
marine to fulfill his required military service. Three years later, he
joined the French navy where he stayed for two years. He was somewhere in
the Caribbean when he found out that his mother had died. In 1871, Gauguin returned to Paris where he secured a job as a stockbroker. His mother's very
rich boyfriend, Gustave Arosa, got him a job at the Paris Bourse; Gauguin was
twenty-three. He became a successful Parisian businessman and remained one for eleven years.
In 1873, he married a Danish woman, Mette-Sophie Gad (1850–1920). Over
the next ten years, they had five children, Emile (1874–1955), Aline
(1877–1897), Clovis (1879–1900), Jean René (1881–1961), and Paul Rollon
(1883–1961). By 1884, Gauguin had moved with his family to Copenhagen,
Denmark, where he pursued a business career as a tarpaulin salesman. It was
not a success: He could not speak Danish, and the Danish did not want French tarpaulins. Mette became the chief breadwinner, giving French lessons to
trainee diplomats. His middle-class family and marriage fell apart after 11 years when Gauguin was driven to paint full-time. He returned to Paris in 1885, after his wife and her family asked him to leave because he renounced the
values they shared. Paul Gauguin's last physical contact with them was in 1891. Like his friend Vincent van Gogh, with whom in 1888 he spent
nine weeks painting in Arles, Paul Gauguin experienced many bouts of
depression and at one time attempted suicide. He traveled to Martinique in
search of an idyllic landscape and worked as a laborer on the Panama Canal
construction; he was dismissed from his job after only two weeks.
I Raro te Oviri, 1891, Dallas Museum of Art
In 1891, Gauguin sailed to French Polynesia to escape European civilization and "everything that is artificial and conventional". He wrote a book titled Noa
Noa describing his experiences in Tahiti. There have been allegations by
modern critics that the contents of the book were fantasized and plagiarized.
Gauguin left France again on 3 July 1895, never to return. His time away, particularly in Tahiti and Hiva Oa Island, was the subject of much interest both
then and in modern times due to his alleged sexual exploits. He was known
to have had trysts with several prepubescent native girls, some of whom
appear as subjects of his paintings.
Gauguin outlived two of his children; his favorite daughter Aline died of pneumonia and son Clovis died of blood infection following a hip operation. Emile Gauguin worked as a construction engineer in the U.S. and is buried in Lemon Bay Historical Cemetery, in Florida. Jean René became a well-known
sculptor and a staunch socialist. He died on 21 April 1961 in Copenhagen. Paola (Paul Rollon) became an artist and art critic and wrote a memoir, My
Father, Paul Gauguin (1937). Gauguin had several children by his mistresses: Germaine (born 1891) with Juliette Huais (1866–1955), Emile Marae a Tai
(born 1899), with Pau'ura (1899–?), and a daughter (born 1902) with
There is some speculation that the Belgian artist Germaine Chardon was Gauguin's daughter. Emile Marae a Tai, illiterate and raised in Tahiti, was brought to Chicago by French journalist Josette Giraud in 1963 and became
an artist of note.
In French Polynesia, toward the end of his life, sick and suffering from an unhealed injury, he got in legal trouble for taking the natives' side against French colonialists. On 27 March 1903, he was charged with libel against the governor, M Guicheray and given three days to prepare his defense. He was fined 500 francs and sentenced to three months in prison. On 2 April, he appealed for a new trial in Papeete. At the second trial, Gauguin was fined 500 francs and sentenced to one month in prison. At that time he was being
supported by the art dealer Ambroise Vollard. Suffering from syphilis, he
died at 11 a.m. on 8 May 1903 of an overdose of morphine and possibly heart attack before he could start the prison sentence. His body had been weakened by alcohol and a dissipated life. He was 54 years old.
Gauguin was buried in Calvary Cemetery (Cimetière Calvaire), Atuona, Hiva
‘Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia at 2 p.m. the next day.
 Artistic career
In 1873, around the same time as he became a stockbroker, he started becoming an artist too. Gauguin began painting in his free time. His Parisian life centred on the 9th arrondissement. Gauguin lived at 21 rue la Bruyére. All
around were the cafés made famous by the Impressionists. Gauguin also visited galleries frequently and purchased work by emerging artists. He formed a friendship with Pissarro and visited him on Sundays, to paint in his garden, and Pissarro introduced him to various other artists. In 1877 Gauguin, "moved downmarket and across the river to the poorer, newer, urban sprawls" of Vaugirard. Here, on the third floor at 8 rue Carcel, he had the first home in which he had a studio. He showed paintings in Impressionist exhibitions held
in 1881 and 1882 - (earlier a sculpture, of his son Emile, had been the only
sculpture in the 4th Impressionist Exhibition of 1879.) Over two summer holidays, he painted with Pissarro and occasionally Paul Cézanne.
Poster of the 1889 Exhibition of Paintings by the Impressionist and Synthetist Group, at
Café des Arts, known as the The Volpini Exhibition, 1889.
Gauguin had been a student at the Petit Séminaire de La
Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, just outside of Orléans, from the age of eleven
to the age of sixteen. His subjects there included a class in Catholic liturgy; the teacher for this class was the Bishop of Orléans,
Félix-Antoine-Philibert Dupanloup. Dupanloup had devised his own catechism to be lodged in the minds of the young schoolboys, and to lead them towards proper spiritual reflections on the nature of life. The three fundamental questions in this catechism were: "Where does humanity come from?" "Where is it going to?", "How does humanity proceed?". Although in later life Gauguin was vociferously anticlerical, these questions from Dupanloup's catechism obviously had lodged in his mind.
He left for Tahiti in 1891, looking for a society more elemental and simplistic than that of his native France. In addition to several other paintings that he created which express a highly individualistic mythology, he is thought to have completed this painting in 1897, although there is some evidence that the painting might not have been finished until 1898. Gauguin considered it a masterpiece and grand culmination of his thoughts.
The curators of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where the painting now
resides, are continuously updating their record of the painting's ownership history, suggesting that their list is not comprehensive. In
any case, in 1898, Gauguin sent the painting to Georges-Daniel de Monfreid
in Paris. Subsequently, it was consigned and sold to several other Parisian and European merchants and collectors until it was purchased by the Marie Harriman Gallery in New York in 1936. The Museum of Fine Arts
in Boston acquired it from the Marie Harriman Gallery on 16 April 1936. The painting was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in the exhibit "Cézanne to Picasso" from February 17th to May 12, 2007. It has since
been returned to its home at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It is approximately five feet (1.5 m) high and over twelve feet (3.60 m) long.
after vowing that he would commit suicide following this Gauguin—
painting's completion, something he had previously attempted—indicated
that the painting should be read from right to left, with the three major figure groups illustrating the questions posed in the title. The three women with a child represent the beginning of life; the middle group symbolizes the daily existence of young adulthood; and in the final group, according to the artist, "an old woman approaching death appears reconciled and resigned to her thoughts"; at her feet, "a strange white bird...represents the futility of words." The blue idol in the background apparently represents what Gauguin described as "the Beyond." Of its entirety he said, "I believe that this canvas not only surpasses all my preceding ones, but that I shall never do anything better—or even like
The painting is an accentuation of Gauguin's trailblazing post-impressionistic style; his art stressed the vivid use of colors and thick brushstrokes, tenets of the impressionists, while it aimed to convey
an emotional or expressionistic strength. It emerged in conjunction with other avant-garde movements of the twentieth century, including cubism
On the right (Where do we come from?), we see the baby, and three young women - those who are closest to that eternal mystery.
In the center, Gauguin meditates on what we are. Here are two women, talking about destiny (or so he described them), a man looking puzzled and half-aggressive, and in the middle, a youth plucking the fruit of experience. it is humanity's innocent and natural desire to live and to search for more life. A child eats the fruit, overlooked by the remote presence of an idol - emblem of our need for the spiritual. There are women (one mysteriously curled up into a shell), and there are animals with whom we share the world: a goat, a cat, and kittens.
In the final section (Where are we going?), a beautiful young woman broods, and an old woman prepares to die. Her pallor and gray hair tell us so, but the message is underscored by the presence of a strange white bird. I once described it as "a mutated puffin," and I do not think I can do better. It is Gauguin's symbol of the afterlife, of the unknown (just as the dog, on the far right, is his symbol of himself).
I copied this from a web site, just be sure to put it in your own words! Good luck
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 1897, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA
In 1887, after visiting Panama, he spent several months near Saint Pierre in
Martinique, in the company of his friend the artist Charles Laval. At first, the
'negro hut' in which they lived suited him, and he enjoyed watching people in
their daily activities. However, the weather in the summer was hot and the hut leaked in the rain. He also suffered dysentery and marsh fever. While in
Martinique, he produced between ten and twenty works (twelve being the most common estimate) and traveled widely and apparently came into contact with a small community of Indian immigrants, a contact that would later influence his art through the incorporation of Indian symbols. Gauguin, along with Émile
Bernard, Charles Laval, Émile Schuffenecker and many others frequently
visited the artist colony of Pont-Aven in Brittany. By the bold use of pure color
and Symbolist choice of subject matter the group is now considered a Pont-Aven School. Disappointed with Impressionism, he felt that traditional
European painting had become too imitative and lacked symbolic depth. By contrast, the art of Africa and Asia seemed to him full of mystic symbolism and vigour. There was a vogue in Europe at the time for the art of other cultures, especially that of Japan (Japonism). He was invited to participate in the 1889
exhibition organized by Les XX.
 Cloisonnism and Synthetism
The Yellow Christ (Le Christ jaune), 1889, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Under the influence of folk art and Japanese prints, Gauguin's work evolved
towards Cloisonnism, a style given its name by the critic Édouard Dujardin in
response to Émile Bernard's method of painting with flat areas of color and bold outlines, which reminded Dujardin of the Medieval cloisonné enamelling
technique. Gauguin was very appreciative of Bernard's art and of his daring with the employment of a style which suited Gauguin in his quest to express
the essence of the objects in his art.