Art e Dossier


Art History

Paul Gauguin: biography

Paul Gaugin was born in Paris in 1848 and the following year his family moved to Peru. He returned to his native country when he was seven and studied in boarding schools in Orléans and Paris. In 1865 he sailed for South America as a midshipman on a merchant ship. Over the next two years he spent his time at sea and fought in the Franco-Prussian War (1870). At the end of the war in 1871 he obtained a position as a stockbroker and began painting. In the coming years he met Pissarro and Cézanne and joined the Impressionists, participating in some of their exhibits. In 1883 he left his job and moved to Rouen, where he stayed with Pissarro. Following an artistic maturation that led him to consider “primitive” artistic experiences as fundamental he began a series of journeys that took him from Europe to South America to the French colonies in the Marquesas Islands. In 1886 he went to Brittany, and specifically to Pont-Aven, for the first time and he returned in 1888 after a trip to Martinique. His experience in Brittany was fundamental the development of his “synthètisme” a style that Albert Aurier, a contemporary critic was to define as “idealistic, symbolistic, synthetic, subjective and decorative” art. At the base of the synthètisme was his familiarity with Japanese prints, the primitivism expressed by Breton sculpture, the flat colors and cloisonnisme of Gothic stained glass windows. A fundamental example of the synthètisme is the painting entitled The Vision After the Sermon, 1888. After a brief stay at Arles, as a guest of Van Gogh and at Le Pouldou, after 1891 he made several trips to Tahiti where he colored his already marked eclectic primitivism, that was also developed on the basis of his “photographic” knowledge of Egyptian painting and the sculptures of Partendone and Borobodur, with exoticism. His life in the refound paradise of Oceania was not, however, idyllic: it was marked by illness, a suicide attempt and in the Marquesas Islands where he moved in 1901 – a prison sentence for having instigated the natives to revolt. He died at Hiva Oa in 1902. His artistic experience that was fundamental for the contemporary Nabis painters, also influenced the studies of the Fauvists and German Expressionists of the Brücke group.
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