Paul Gaugain was born in Paris, on the 7th of June 1848, and was a leading Post-Impressionist painter. His experimentation with colors led to the Synthetist style of modern art, while the meaning of his paintings paved the way to Primitivism and the return to the pastoral. Disappointed by the then leading current- Impressionism- Paul Gaugain felt that the current lacked meaning and that it had become too familiar.
He evolved towards Cloisonnism- a specific enameling technique. His most representative work from this period is The Yellow Christ. During this time, Paul Gaugain paid very little attention to classical perspective and eliminated subtle color gradations, and by doing so he dispensed with two of the most important principles of that period. His paintings later evolved to Synthetism, a style in which both color and form play an equal role.
Due to the lack of recognition in his country and financial troubles, Paul Gaugain moved to Tahiti, to escape Europe and its conventions. This move marked the start of his passion for Tahitian people and their culture, and more importantly, it marked the beginning of his return to the pastoral.
Even though Primitivism was a current in the 19th century, Paul Gaugain was the first to gain recognition and public success. Europeans were fascinated by the strange power of art depicting faraway places. Gaugain was inspired by the raw power and simplicity of the so called Primitive art of those places. During his time in Tahiti he painted several impressive paintings, such as “Where do We Come From” , “Fatata Te Niti”, “Ave Maria”, “Spirit of The Dead Watching”.
Paul Gaugain’s Legacy and Influence
The works of Gaugain influenced many artists in the 20th century, such as Henri Mattise, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque.
Like many other artists, Gaugain gained fame after his death in 1904. Many of his paintings were acquired by a Russian collector, and many of the artwork in his collection is displayed in the Hermitage. Paul Gaugain’s paintings are rarely for sale, and their prices reach enormous amounts of money: up to 40 million dollars. Gaugain’s life inspired many artists beyond painting: Sommerset Maugham based The Moon and Sixpence on the painter’s life and so did Mario Vargas Llosa, in his 2003 novel The Way to Paradise.
Paul Gaugain was an impressive artist, with incredible vision and passion for art. He led the way to new currents and influenced many movements and artists. What’s your favorite Gaugain painting?
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