Paul Gauguin

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        Biography (1848-1903)
        A  L I F E

        Paul Gauguin was born in Paris. Part of his childhood was spent in Peru, whence his mother's family came, and from 1865 to 1871 he was at sea. He became a stockbroker in 1871, and a Sunday-painter who collected the works of the Impressionists and joined in their exhibitions (1881-6)...more.

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        He gave up his job in 1883, and after many vicissitudes separated from his family and went to live in Brittany at Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu, where he worked from 1886 to 1890, except for visits to Paris, a trip to Panama and Martinique in 1887 and a disastrous stay of two months with van Gogh in Arles in 1888. In 1891 he went to Tahiti, returned to Paris in 1893 for lack of money, but went back to the South Sea Islands in 1895. His health was failing and he had been seriously hurt in a brawl with sailors in Brittany in 1894. His remaining years were spent in poverty, illness and continual strife with the colonial authorities through his championing of native causes. He died at Atuana in the Marquesas.

          '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' - Paul Gauguin

        His early works may be ranged with those of the Impressionists, particularly with Pissarro and Cezanne, but after 1886 when his works hung in the eighth and last Impressionist Exhibition with those of Seurat he endeavoured to introduce more colour and this tendency became more marked after his voyage to Martinique. In 1888 at Pont-Aven he met Serusier and Bernard, whose knowledge of medieval art joined with Gauguin's own interest in primitive sculpture, Romanesque, and Far and Near\Eastern art, to encourage him to abandon Impressionism and all attempts at the representation of nature in favour of Synthetism. His rejection of Western civilization led to his departure for Tahiti, and to his efforts to express, through an art free from the conventions of the naturalistic tradition, the simplicity of life among primitive and unspoiled peoples. His influence has been enormous, since he is one of the main sources from which non-naturalistic 20th-century art has emanated.

        There are works, including sculpture, in Baltimore, Basle, Birmingham (Barber Inst.), Boston (Mus.), Brussels, Budapest, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland Ohio, Cologne, Detroit, Edinburgh (NG), Essen, Glasgow, Grenoble, Hartford Conn., Indianapolis, Kansas City, London (Tate, Courtauld Inst.), Los Angeles, Manchester (City Mus.), Minneapolis, Moscow, Munich, Newcastle, New York (Met. Mus., M of MA), Northampton Mass., Oslo, Ottawa, Paris (Mus. d'Orsay), Prague, Reims, Stockholm, Toledo Ohio, and Washington (NG, Phillips).

      • Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)


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