Paul Gauguin

Paul GauginPaul Gauguin was a famous Post-Impressionist painter whose bold experimentation with color helped develop the Synthetist style in modern art. His painting style also led to the development of Primitivism and a return to the pastoral. He is also known for his woodcuts and wood engravings from which he became one of its influential proponents.

Paul Gauguin was born on June 7, 1848 in Paris, France. His father, Clovis Gauguin, was a journalist while his mother, Aline Maria Chazal, was the a half-Peruvian daughter of a socialist leader and feminist. It was unfortunate that Paul’s father died while on a voyage to Peru when he was three years old, leaving his mother to raise him along with Paul’s sister. The fractured family lived in Lima, Peru for four years before returning to France.

When Paul and his family returned to France when he was seven, they stayed with his grandfather where he soon learned French and did very well on his studies. His interest in art started when he was young. Free time he spends painting and visiting galleries to purchase work by emerging artists.

This led him to get in touch with a network of other artists which led him to rent his own studio and exhibit his paintings in Impressionist exhibitions in 1881 and 1882. After trying out work as a stockbroker in Copenhagen in 1884, he decided to devote his time in painting and returned to Paris in 1885.

Although trying to develop his craft in painting, Paul started to suffer from the poor subsistence that his profession brought with him. Painting wasn’t providing much of what he needed just to survive. This is what probably driven him to bouts of depression. But yet, his love for art prevailed and he continued on painting in Paris until 1891.

Throughout his stay in France, Paul Gauguin became frustrated for not being recognized for his work and still in the state of financial disrepair. He resolved to sail into the tropics in order to escape the conventionalities and supposed unnatural state of European civilization. This led him to briefly stay in Martinique and become a day laborer during the construction of the Panama Canal.

He later on moved to Tahiti where he did a number of masterpieces influenced by the culture and style he experienced while staying in the tropics. The style that he employed also influenced the Primitivism art movement in the late 19th century.

The style is characterized by exaggerated body proportions, geometric designs and stark contrasts from which Gauguin was the first artist to make use of such styles and achieve broad public success. His works fascinated and intrigued a number of the European elite who were just discovering the art coming from foreign cultures in Micronesia, Africa and the tropics.

Paul returned to France only once after that and lived out the rest of his life in the Marquesas Islands. Paul Gauguin died in 1903 and was buried in the Marquesas Islands.

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