Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was a French artist known for his post-impressionist paintings, which inspired the symbolist movement in art and influenced the development of modern art. Gauguin's life was marked by personal turmoil and artistic experimentation, which made him an important figure in the history of art.
Gauguin was born in Paris, France, on June 7, 1848, to a French journalist, Clovis Gauguin, and a half-Peruvian mother, Aline Chazal. His family moved to Peru when he was two years old, but they returned to France when he was seven. Gauguin spent much of his childhood in Lima, Peru, and never forgot the impact that the Peruvian landscape and culture had on him.
Gauguin's personal life was tumultuous, marked by several failed marriages and affairs. He married Mette-Sophie Gad in 1873, and they had five children together. Gauguin left his family in 1885 to pursue his art, and he traveled extensively throughout Europe and the South Pacific. He had many friends and artistic acquaintances, including Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and Émile Bernard.
Gauguin worked in several different locations throughout his life, including France, Denmark, Martinique, and Tahiti. He was heavily influenced by the art of Paul Cézanne and the primitive art of Polynesia. Gauguin developed his own unique style of painting, characterized by bold colors, flattened forms, and simplified shapes. He used a technique called "synthetism," which emphasized the overall impression of a scene rather than its individual components.
Gauguin's footprint in the art world was significant. He helped to break away from the traditional techniques and subject matter of the Impressionist movement, paving the way for the development of modern art. Gauguin's use of bold colors and simplified shapes influenced the Fauvist movement, and his interest in primitive cultures inspired the development of the Primitivist movement.
Here are five of Gauguin's most important paintings:
"Vision After the Sermon" (1888) - This painting is one of Gauguin's most famous works, and it features a group of Breton women witnessing a vision of Jacob wrestling with an angel.
"The Yellow Christ" (1889) - This painting depicts a crucified Christ against a bright yellow background, and it represents Gauguin's interest in the religious symbolism of Brittany.
"Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" (1897) - This large-scale painting is one of Gauguin's most ambitious works, and it features a group of Tahitian figures contemplating the mysteries of life.
"Tahitian Women on the Beach" (1891) - This painting features two Tahitian women sitting on a beach, and it represents Gauguin's interest in the sensuality and exoticism of the South Pacific.
"The Spirit of the Dead Watching" (1892) - This painting features a young Tahitian woman lying on a bed, and it represents Gauguin's fascination with the supernatural and mystical aspects of Tahitian culture.