Paul Gauguin and his paintings
Paul Gauguin styled his lifestyle and art as being savage. In the late 1880s, he began work as one of the impressionists, but as his career evolved, he moved further away from this, seeking to create a more primitive style in
art. His notoriety in the art world, allowed him to promote his style and work,; he was a leader in the symbolist art movement in France, and set the stage for Fauvism and expressionism painting in general.
Paul Gauguin entered the art world much later than most artists, there is very little in his early life which pointed him in this direction. His early life was spent in Lima, Peru, where his mother was from, which did affect his appeal for traveling. Joining the marines at an older age, also gave him the nomadic lifestyle he came to love, allowing him to travel frequently. By 1873, he had married, and settled in Paris, working as a stock broker. When in Paris, Paul Gauguin developed an amateur passion for art; in 1879, he met Camille Pissaro, and became an "unofficial" student. Soon after, he was invited to an exhibit, with the impressionist painters.
The market crash in 1882 caused Paul Gauguin to make the decision to become a full time artist; still life, impressionist paintings, and interiors, were most of the heavy influences that led his early career as an artist.
Paul Gauguin adopted Cezanne's parallels, and work in extensive brush strokes; many of his pieces were analyzed by Paul Cezanne, to help Gauguin improve his form and intricate detail. Mystery, the dream world, and evocative
symbols, were often seen in the designs and paintings which Paul Gauguin created. In addition to painting, he sculpted, did wood work projects, and made ceramic art works as well.
The modernism style which Paul Gauguin depicted, brought him to Brittany in Panama, in 1886, in hopes of retrieving some of his past. He made a second visit to Brittany in 1888, and met artist Emile Bernard, which resulted in the Vision After the Sermon, an extraordinary painting which he created. This became a central piece for the symbolism movement. In the piece, Paul Gauguin dropped the brush strokes he learned through Cezanne, and used deep, bold colors to depict the central image of the peasant women.
After the second trip in 1888, Paul Gauguin left Brittany, and made the move to Arles, where he joined Vincent Van Gogh; his brother Theo Van Gogh was the art dealer for Gauguin. Upon this meeting, Paul Gauguin encouraged Van Gogh to paint from personal dreams and interpretations, as opposed to using nature, and his natural surroundings, to create the art he would later develop for the world to see. The mental break down which Van Gogh had, which he famously cut of his ear, led to the end of their relationship, and left a strain between the two men and the work they had created together for a short period of time.
Upon returning to Paris, Paul Gauguin was hoping to be able to make his impression felt on the Parisian people. He put together a renegade exhibit, which became known as the Volpini Exhibit. The Volpini suite Gauguin created for the show, was a representation of the first print making work he would create; it was meant to represent the work he had done, since the last exhibit he was a part of, three years prior, in 1886.
The failure which Paul Gauguin underwent with the Volpini Exhibit, caused him to want to leave Paris, and in 1891 made his way to Tahiti. The first piece of work he did while in Tahiti, represents the Virgin Mary being worshiped by two other women, who were dressed in bright colored dresses, and were in a lush, tropical landscape. This was representative of a photo Gauguin brought with him; similarly the second major piece he created in Tahiti, was also inspired by a photo that he brought with him, when he made the trip over from Paris.
In 1893, Paul Gauguin returned to Paris for the second time in recent years. He began work on a book, which was accompanied by woodcuts; this was being made to contextualize the weird art work he had created while in Tahiti. This would use the woodcuts, to showcase the nature, erotic, and mysterious ways, along with the savage lifestyle he encountered, when he made the trip to Tahiti. Many colors, different ink sets, and different patterns were experimented, during the construction of this book; Paul Gauguin also turned to offset printing, which allowed him to explore different emotional and different artistic effects he could create.
Paul Gauguin made a second trip to Tahiti in 1895, and with his failing financial success in Paris, decided to remain there until his death a few years later. At this time he was suffering from syphilis; however, in between the hospital visits he had to make, he was able to create one of his most famous pieces: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? This piece is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today. This allegorical piece, served as a synthesis and transitional piece, which showcased the many major art forms which he had worked on during his career, and the different styles he had encountered during the course of his art career.
After this final piece, the work he did in Tahiti, became self-referential; he mainly depicted the same images and figures over and over, in different styles and lights. He would simply cut and paste the same images in different positions and forms. After becoming disillusioned by Western civilization and the colonial corruption that took place in Tahiti, Paul Gauguin left in 1901, and moved to the island Hiva Oa, continually searching for a lost paradise. He lived on this small island until his death, which took place only a couple of years later, when he passed away in 1903.
As leading French Post-Impressionist artist, Paul Gauguin was not well appreciated until after his death. Gauguin was later recognized for his experimental use of colors and synthetist style that were distinguishably different from Impressionism. His work was influential to the French avant-garde and many modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall.