Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, 1848 - 1904
1893 self portrait, oil on canvas
Born: 7 June 1848, Paris, France
Died: 8 May 1903, Atuona, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
Gauguin's father Clovis was a Republican journalist, three years after his birth the family fled the country after a change in governments. Clovis didn't survive the journey, leaving the three-year-old Paul, a sister, and his mother dependent on relatives. Four years later the family returned to France, living at Orleans with grandparents. At seventeen Paul joined the merchant marine for three years, then the navy for two before becoming a stockbroker at Paris in 1871. This job gave him money to acquire art, he also took up painting himself and was soon painting and exhibiting with the Impressionists. He married a Danish woman, Mette, in 1873, in 1884 the family moved to Copenhagen but a year later he returned to Paris to paint full time. His family, with no steady income, moved in with Mette's parents. On Gauguin's next trip he stopped in Panama and worked as a laborer on the canal, then went on to Martinique. By this time he had incorporated elements from the art he saw on his travels and had moved on to Cloisonnism and Synthetism, and broken off from the Impressionists. He returned to France and at the urging of his dealer, Theo Van Gogh, he moved in with Vincent Van Gogh at Arles. The two did not get along, although both painted a great deal during this time. It was during this visit that Van Gogh cut off his ear, although some have speculated that Gauguin severed the ear in a fight. He returned to Tahiti, unable to get along with the colonial government there he moved on to the Marquesas in 1897. He ran into some additional issues with the church and government there, he was sentenced to three months in prison but died of syphilis before the started serving his time.
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Paul Gauguin quotes:
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- A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes that he has got the biggest piece. permalink
- A critic at my house sees some paintings. Greatly perturbed, he asks for my drawings. My drawings! Never! They are my letters, my secrets. permalink
- A critic is someone who meddles with something that is none of his business. permalink
- A great sentiment can be rendered immediately. Dream on it and look for the simplest form in which you can express it. permalink
Letter to Emile Schuffenecker (Copenhagen, 14 October 1885)
- A nude by Degas is chaste. But his women wash in tubs! permalink
- A time will come when people will think I am a myth, or rather something the newspapers have made up. permalink
Letter to Georges-Daniel de Monfreid (Tahiti, October 1897)
- A young man who is unable to commit a folly is already an old man. permalink
The Writings of a Savage (1990)
- All the joys — animal and human — of a free life are mine. I have escaped everything that is artificial, conventional, customary. permalink
- And here in my isolation I can grow stronger. Poetry seems to come of itself, without effort, and I need only let myself dream a little while painting to suggest it. permalink
- Art is either plagiarism or revolution. permalink
quoted by James Huneker in The Pathos of Distance (1913)
- Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty? permalink
- Art: a mad search for individualism. permalink
- Beware of luxury! Beware of acquiring the taste and need for it, under the pretext of providing for the morrow. permalink
- Civilization is what makes you sick. permalink
- Color which, like music, is a matter of vibrations, reaches what is most general and therefore most indefinable in nature: its inner power. permalink
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