Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gauguin, Paul

Young Christian Girl (Bretonne en Priere)
Oil on canvas
65.2 x 46.7 cm
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903) was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist.  In 1870, he began a career as a stockbroker and remained in this profession for twelve years, and, in 1883, at the age of thirty-five, he decided to give up business and devote himself entirely to painting.

Gauguin embodied the dissatisfaction with bourgeois (middle-class) Parisian existence felt by several postimpressionist painters. He achieved what was perhaps the most extreme break with that society when he left Europe for a non-Western culture.
In the spring of 1895 he sailed for Tahiti. He settled among the natives but his health grew poorer; An ankle he had broken in Brittany did not heal properly, and he suffered from strokes. He had to depend on menial jobs (work that is beneath a person's skills) in order to support himself. In 1901 he moved to the Marquesas Islands. He died there, alone, of a stroke on May 8, 1903.

Gauguin’s art was not popular while he was alive. After his death, he was recognized for his experimental use of colors and synthetist style that was distinguishably different from Impressionism. Today, he is regarded as a highly influential founder of modern art. He focused on color and line, and often created a profound sense of mystery in his work. His unusual combinations of objects and people can be seen as forerunners of the surrealist (using fantastic imagery) art of the 1920s and later.