Paul Gauguin, the post-impressionist artist

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was born in 1848 and was an important artist at the forefront of Europe, being part of the current of art known as Post-Impressionism. Gauguin is recognized as a color scholar, just like Paul Signac who created pointillism and divisionism, Gauguin used an experimental color technique known as synthetism. And he painted using cloisonism, which was an artistic method of marking the contour of shapes. Paul Gauguin is also known to have been involved in the episode in which Van Gogh severed his own ear after a fight as the artist.

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, but his mother was a descendant of a nobleman who owned land in Peru, so he and his family spent time in this country. In his adult life, Gauguin started working as a stockbroker in Paris, but he met artist Camille Pissaro, an impressionist who introduced him to the world of art.

The artist moves away from his profession as a broker more because of an economic crisis than because of an artistic vocation. However, he decides to be an artist and paints together with Camille Pissaro and Paul Cézanne.

Landscape, Paul Gauguin.

The artist made a small adventure moving to Rouen, to live next to Camille Pissaro and to start a successful artistic career. However, his attempt fails. The paintings of this period have an impressionist style. Gauguin did not like the artistic technique of pointillism presented by Paul Signac.

So, the artist decides to move to Pont-Aven, in this place the artist is enthusiastic about the success that his paintings make among the beginning artists who live in Pont-Aven. The artist paints many landscapes, and little by little he begins to distance himself from impressionism and gain his own artistic style. As in the work below, Watermill.

Watermill, Paul Gauguin.

During this period, Gauguin paints one of his famous paintings, The four Breton women. It is in this work that he shows a great departure from the impressionist artistic style.

The four Breton women, Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin meets Émile Bernard and the artistic technique known by the name of cloisonism is presented, which consists of separating the figures using dark and striking contours. One of his most famous works that incorporates cloisonism is Vision after the Sermon.

Vision after the Sermon, Paul Gauguin.

In addition to the influence of Émile Bernard, the artist is also introduced to Japanese woodcuts (ukyio-e), which he incorporates in his works of art.

In the year 1887, Paul Gauguin decided to visit Panama, and then stayed on the island Martinique with the artist Charles Laval. In this place the two artists found very precarious living conditions, Gauguin contracts malaria and has dysentery and is forced to return to France. Despite all these setbacks, in the time that the artist spent on this island, he came into contact with the local community, and produced some paintings during his stay in Martinique.

He made the picture The collection of fruits.

Fruit collection, Paul Gauguin.

These paintings made by the artist while in Martinique were exposed and caught the attention of two brothers, Theo and Vincent Van Gogh, Van Gogh’s brother bought three paintings by Paul Gauguin. Vincent Van Gogh and the artist spent a season together at the yellow house in Arlen.

This period when he lived with Van Gogh was one of many fights, and when Paul Gauguin finally decides to leave, Vincente threatens him with a razor and then cuts off his own ear.

The artist Edgar Degas also influenced Paul Gauguin a lot, the artist admired him a lot. Degas organized an exhibition with the works of Paul Gauguin, but the paintings were not well received by the impressionists.

Gauguin decides to travel to Tahiti. Art critics consider Paul Gauguin’s best period of painting to be during this first stay in Tahiti. During this time he makes some portraits like The Woman holding a flower.

Woman holding a flower, Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin também faz nus artísticos e obras alegóricas em relação a mitologia local, como na obra A semente do Areois, ou Te aa no areois. Em que ele representa na imagem a esposa terrestre do deus Oro.

The seed of Areois, Paul Gauguin.

One of the most famous works from this first period in which you were in Tahiti is the painting called D’où venons-nous? What sommes-nous? Où allons-nous? (Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?). Painting that is part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston.

D’où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ? , Paul Gauguin.

The artist acquires Syphilis, shows the first symptoms of the disease and returns to France where he continues to paint Tahiti themes, like his post-impressionist work Mahana no ato (God’s day). This painting is at the Art Institute of Chicago in the United States.

Mahana no atua, Paul Gauguin.

In Tahiti his works are very successful while in France, in the exhibitions he participates in, his paintings are moderately successful. However, the artist breaks his friendship with the art collector Durand-Ruel, who was responsible for most of the artist’s exhibitions.

Paul Gauguin then decides to return to Tahiti a second time, where he manages to have some financial success. The artist starts to get involved in local politics and his health has also deteriorated, he had to be hospitalized. In the year 1903, Paul Gauguin finally succumbs to syphilis and dies.

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