Paul Gauguin

French (1848 - 1903)
Paul Gauguin Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel) 1888

Biography

Born 1848
Died 1903
Nationality French
Birth place Paris
Death place Atuona

Paul Gauguin's highly original paintings profoundly influenced modern art of the twentieth century. Now described as a 'Post-Impressionist', he was inspired to paint by Pissarro, but developed a symbolic style, using colour to express meaning. Traditions in western art and cultures outside Europe influenced his work. Gauguin's taste for travel and new experiences began when, as a child, he left Paris for Peru. In 1883 he abandoned stockbroking to dedicate himself to painting full-time. He painted in Brittany, and in Provence with Van Gogh. Gauguin travelled to Panama and Martinique and settled in Tahiti for several years. He died on the remote Marchese Islands.

Glossary terms

  • The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late nineteenth century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

  • A broad-ranging term covering the variety of painting styles that emerged in the wake of Impressionism in Europe, particularly in France. The most prominent artists to arise from the group are Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

  • Folk art is a broad term encompassing a variety of styles, referring generally to the fine and applied arts of untrained artists working outside the academic mainstream. The concept of Folk Art originates from the nineteenth century, carrying a certain nostalgia for pre-industrialised society, and was integrated into avant-garde styles by many artists at the turn of the century.

  • A term used to describe art that employs ‘primitive’ elements or forms. Today the term ‘primitive’ is often deemed as degrading when applied to non-Western cultures, so is frequently placed in quotation marks.