Through some of his most famous paintings we explore Paul Gauguin’s extraordinary life as well as his attempt to escape civilization. Impressionists episode 6 looks at the painter Paul Gauguin, whose life was as colorful and varied as his painting.
Impressionists and their circle have become the international superstars of Western painting. But whilst their popularity is greater than ever, it is easy to forget the revolutionary nature of the Impressionists’ art. In this series, Tim Marlow takes us on a journey through the great art movement of the late nineteenth-century and explores some of the most beautiful paintings ever created.
Impressionists episode 6 – Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903) was a French post-Impressionist artist. Unappreciated until after his death, Gauguin is now recognized for his experimental use of color and Synthetist style that were distinctly different from Impressionism. Toward the end of his life, he spent ten years in French Polynesia, and most of his paintings from this time depict people or landscapes from that region.
His work was influential to the French avant-garde and many modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Gauguin’s art became popular after his death, partially from the efforts of art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who organized exhibitions of his work late in his career and assisted in organizing two important posthumous exhibitions in Paris.
Gauguin was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and writer. His expression of the inherent meaning of the subjects in his paintings, under the influence of the cloisonnist style, paved the way to Primitivism and the return to the pastoral. He was also an influential proponent of wood engraving and woodcuts as art forms.
Gauguin was born in Paris to Clovis Gauguin and Aline Chazal on June 7, 1848. His birth coincided with revolutionary upheavals throughout Europe that year. His father, a 34-year-old liberal journalist, came from a family of entrepreneurs residing in Orléans. He was compelled to flee France when the newspaper for which he wrote was suppressed by French authorities. Gauguin’s mother was the 22-year-old daughter of André Chazal, an engraver, and Flora Tristan, an author and activist in early socialist movements. Their union ended when André assaulted his wife Flora and was sentenced to prison for attempted murder.