Paul Gauguin Blog

Gauguin in Seattle…err, not Tahiti

Feb 15 2012 10:46PM | by Staff Editor

To all Paul Gauguin lovers: you have two choices to get your full morsels of the post Impressionist painter’s best exhibit this year: either Seattle, or Copenhagen. For the North Americans, and indeed, anyone around that side of the planet, you would really want to make it to Seattle if the dollar isn’t a problem for you. From, well, now until April 29, the Seattle Art Museum, or SAM as it is more affectionately known, is showing Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise that highlights the multifarious relationship between Paul Gauguin’s work and the art and culture of Polynesia. The exhibition features nearly 60 of Gauguin’s luminously hued paintings, sculptures and works on paper, which are displayed alongside 60 major examples of powerful Polynesian sculpture. It’s organised by one of the most capable and respected organisation in the art world,  the Art Centre Basel, and the Gauguin paintings come from some of the planet’s most snobby museums and bamboozling private collections. But let’s not hype it up just that much – Gauguin is only considered, after all, one of the world’s most influential painters for his evocative symbolism and distinctive palette. As most of our faithful readers would know (this... Read more

Gauguin’s Kids

Jan 22 2012 10:04PM | by Staff Editor

Although French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin could hardly be described as a family man, his absence from the domestic scene didn’t prevent him, and his work, from influencing his children. Gauguin had five children with his wife Mette-Sophie Gad, as well as numerous children by his various mistresses around the world. In this post we’re going to take a closer look at the lives of some of the more artistically minded offspring from the Gauguin brood. First of all we’ve got the five children that Gauguin fathered over the course of ten years between 1874 and 1883 with his Danish wife Mette - Emile, Aline, Clovis, Jean René and Paul Rollon. Of these children it is perhaps Jean René who achieved the greatest level of success and recognition in his career as an artist. The last time he saw his father was when he was ten years old, prior to Gauguin’s departure for Tahiti. Contact in the previous years had been intermittent and communication had been problematic, with Gauguin unable to speak Danish and his children unable to speak French. Jean René, like his father, trained as a sailor, also being apprenticed as a carpenter for a short time, but it... Read more

Gauguin And Christ, Green And Yellow

Jan 10 2012 05:22PM | by Staff Editor

In the autumn of 1889 French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin created two paintings with similar subject matter that would go on to be regarded as key works of Symbolism in painting. The oil paintings were created prior to Gauguin’s first trip to the South Pacific in 1891, during a period in which he produced a truly colossal output of work. Christian themes had appeared in many of his earlier works, but in 1889 Gauguin’s inclusion of religious imagery and motifs really went into overdrive. Le Christ Dans le Jardin Des Oliviers (Christ In The Garden Of Olives) and Adam Et Éve, Ou Le Paradis Perdu (Adam And Eve, Or Paradise Lost) both appeared in 1889 prior to the painting of Le Christ Jaune (The Yellow Christ) and Le Christ Vert (The Green Christ) that autumn. The reason that The Yellow Christ and The Green Christ are so significant however, is not due to their subject matter but due to their design, composition and execution. The paintings were created when Gauguin visited Pont-Aven, a commune in Brittany in north-western France. Gauguin had visited the village on a number of occasions prior to 1889, and his most recent stay in 1888 had only... Read more

Gauguin And His Cruises

Dec 27 2011 01:51PM | by Staff Editor

Ships and travel played an important role in the life of French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, and many of the key moments in his life and indeed, key stages in his artistic career, can be separated and partitioned by his most recent voyage. Gauguin’s travels began when he was just over a year old, after his family decided to leave France due to political upheaval in the country in 1849. They travelled by ship to Peru where some of his mother’s family had originated from, but sadly his father Clovis Gauguin died on the crossing. An eighteen month old Gauguin, his sister and his mother arrived in Peru and lived in Lima for four years – some have said that Gauguin’s earliest artistic influences, as well as his early tastes in women, were developed during these formative years in South America. The family returned to France when Gauguin was seven, he completed his schooling in Orléans, and at the age of 17 he joined the French merchant navy as part of his required military service. After three years of service he joined the French Navy with whom he would stay for a further two years, being stationed for a time in... Read more

Gauguin On The Big Screen

Dec 25 2011 09:33PM | by Staff Editor

We recently heard news of a new feature length film production that is currently in the developmental phase – the film’s subject? None other than French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin. As charismatic as he was unreasonable, and as talented as he was temperamental, the role of Gauguin is one that we can imagine many actors falling over themselves to attain. Well, we thought we’d have a dig around for previous portrayals of Gauguin on the big screen, and see how those actors fared. The earliest portrayal of Gauguin in cinema was in the Vincent Van Gogh biographical film Lust For Life from 1956. Gauguin was brought to life on screen by an eccentric Anthony Quinn, who claimed to have heard the voice of Gauguin’s spirit throughout the filming process. Whatever the voice was telling him, it clearly worked and that year he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal. In 1980 it was David Carradine who played Gauguin in the TV movie Gauguin The Savage. The film went on to win a Primetime Emmy and Carradine’s performance in it received favourable reviews, although some have mentioned that successfully playing someone who was a drunkard and a womaniser may... Read more

Gauguin and his many loves

Nov 30 2011 06:27PM | by Staff Editor

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, born on June 7, 1948, had many loves in his relatively short 54 years of life. We’re not just talking women lovers (and perhaps men, although by all popular accounts he was partial to the opposite sex) whom he arguably spread syphilis to, which was his accepted cause of death. We are talking about the various artistic movements that Gauguin paintings either inspired, were a part of, or helped to propagate. Gauguin was a leading post Impressionist painter who is primarily claimed by the Symbolist movement; however, scholars also note that his artwork led to and was part of the Synthetist style, as well as the cloisonnist style and finally, the art movement known as Primitivism. We’ll now examine just what it meant that Gauguin was a Symbolist. Symbolism was first used by the critic Jean Moréas to describe a growing body of Russian, French and Belgian poetry and visual art in the late 19th century. As with most artistic movements, such as Surrealism, the literal and the visual often spurred each other on. In this case the literal symbolists set the tone for the movement: historians agree the movement began with publication of Les Fleurs... Read more

Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise

Nov 28 2011 07:56PM | by Staff Editor

Elusive and yearning would be two good words to describe much of Gauguin’s life and art. In an interview in France on February 23, 1891, just days before leaving for Tahiti, Gauguin said he was leaving so he could be “at peace and can rid myself of civilization’s influence.” The famous aspiring primitive man went on to say: “I want to create only simple art. To do that, I need to immerse myself in virgin nature, see only savages, live their life, with no other care than to portray, as would a child, the concepts in my brain using only primitive artistic materials, the only kind that are good and true.” Ignoring the fact that Gauguin’s views were inherently colonialist in nature, Gauguin completed the journey and produced many works of art largely lauded today. Thus a new exhibition called Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise seeks to highlight the multifaceted relationship between the artist and Polynesia. Unfortunately for most Americans, the only location you’ll be able to see the work is at the Seattle Art Museum, from February 9 to April 29 next year (it was organized in partnership with the Art Centre Basel, Basel, and the Ny Carlsberg... Read more

Gauguin paintings and their mysterious influencing ways

Oct 30 2011 10:50AM | by Staff Editor

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, the French Post-Impressionist artist, is about as famous as the cruise ships named after him. His bold forays with colour led to the Synthetist movement in Modern Art, while his composition and subject matter led to Primitivism and the seeds of Cubism. In short, the man known as the stockbroker turned savage, would come to influence art in ways never thought of before. In fact, his influence can still be seen today in the form of an up and coming Calgary artist. Before we focus on the Gauguin painting Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? from 1897, let’s consider Gauguin and his influence on Picasso, the modern master. Gert Schiff, the notable Picasso biographer, wrote in 1983 about the importance of Gauguin’s painting in capturing the allure of escape and the possibility of reinvention in Picasso: “Here the old artist revives one last time that dream which Paul Gauguin had impressed so forcibly upon his generation: the flight from civilization. To think there are whole peoples who lie in the sand and pipe upon bamboo canes! To think that it should be possible to rid oneself of all norms and... Read more

Lights, camera, action! New Gauguin musical to delight

Oct 18 2011 09:38AM | by Staff Editor

Being the self-styled primitive man of the French middle class, Paul Gauguin took great pleasure in shocking and awe-ing French society long before George W. Bush and his 2003 campaign in Iraq did. So how do humble members of the masses ease their creative anxieties? Why, they turn to the perfect combination of song, dance and drama, the musical. These tenets are precisely what makes what we believe is the first Gauguin musical to be produced – The Musical Paul Gauguin, produced by the Asian Story Theatre in California. Now the first thing you should realise before buying a ticket for the musical is that you should not be adverse to boats or sea-sickness. The musical actually takes place in five separate venues to immerse the viewer in a journey as similar as possible to what Gauguin himself undertook – hence the inclusion of a Berkeley ferryboat in the San Diego Bay. The second thing you might be asking yourself is: what does the Asian Story Theatre have to do with Gauguin? According to the company’s website, the story of Gauguin was worthy of production because it is “a modern tale of multiculturalism and the social cost of creative freedom.”... Read more

Gauguin paintings and their Copenhagen roots

Oct 02 2011 11:42AM | by Staff Editor

Paul Gauguin – the French feral artist who threw away the trappings of a bourgeois lifestyle to forage and hunt for food in the wilds of French Polynesia…But is that version of the story really that simple? A new exhibition entitled “Gauguin & Polynesia: An elusive paradise” aims to challenge the root of the famous Gauguin story. The Danes are now claiming that it was in Copenhagen, Denmark, that Gauguin first got his taste for adventure. Ironically enough, the only reason why Gauguin moved to Denmark was an ill-fated, or perhaps fortunate, attempt to go into the tarp selling business (how capitalist of him). The enterprising Frenchman thus moved to the city with his Danish wife and five children, where he would encounter one exhibition that would change his life forever. It was the year 1884 that Paul Gauguin moved to Copenhagen. Recent research from historians at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek suggests that Gauguin visited a South Pacific art exhibit at the National Museum of Denmark, sparking his interest in the colonial islands. To back up their assertion, the exhibition was launched featuring works and art from the Pacific Islands, juxtaposed next to Gauguin paintings immediately following that period. The... Read more

Gauguin paintings – who owns what?

Sep 04 2011 09:22PM | by Staff Editor

You’ve heard of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the War on Terror, Star Wars and the war on obesity…but have you ever heard of the Museum Wars? That’s right. Since January this year the United States of America and Russia have decided to go at it again – this time over who will exhibit what, and whether or not museums from both countries will lend their oil paintings. Never far from controversy, several Paul Gauguin paintings have also been involved. So just what is all this kerfuffle about? The issue at the heart of the matter follows two judicial rulings in the American Federal courts since 2010. The courts ruled a group of works known as the Schneerson Library, a collection of Jewish religious books and artwork totalling about 62,000 documents in total. The library was collated by the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement over 200 years before World War II, and Russia has kept the library since the Nazis looted the works and moved them to Poland, where they were seized by the Russians after the war. For decades the Chabad organization has been trying to gain legal and physical possession, unsuccessfully suing in Russia but finally gaining success in... Read more

Gauguin’s Savage Light

Aug 07 2011 10:22PM | by Staff Editor

Not many musicals have been produced about Paul Gauguin’s life, so it is with some relief that we bring you news of “Gauguin / Savage Light”. The musical takes us through episodes of Gauguin’s life from Paris, to the relationship with Van Gogh in southern France, and finally to Tahiti and other French Polynesian islands that would prove the stimulus for the bulk of his most famous artwork. Is a musical-monologue really the best way to portray Gauguin’s complicated life? It would need one gifted actor, and that can be found in the writer-producer-performer George Fischoff. Now in its fourth year, “Gauguin / Savage Light” is the artistic baby of George Fischoff, a major hit song writer of the 60s. That’s what the promo bill tells you about him: that he wrote songs and music recorded by a host of musical celebs from the Monkees to Perry Como, Herb Alpert and Pearl Bailey. Fischoff takes this experience and channels it into a small piano situated in the Nola Studios in New York, NY. In fact, that’s all there is in the studio-cum-theatre: Fischoff, a piano, 14 reproduction Gauguin paintings and the audience. Far from being a large-scale Broadway musical, this... Read more

Aspirin, Condoms, and a Paul Gauguin: three things you can get at a pharmacy?

Jul 24 2011 09:56PM | by Staff Editor

Like many small children, Phillip Brown dreamed of working at a pharmacy. However, this Jacksonville Floridian had another idea. After moving from Louisiana, where he earned his pharmacy degree from Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana Monroe), he opened a museum, “even though (he) wasn’t sure what a museum is.” The 62-year old started by purchasing and renovating an old two-storey house, half a block from where his new pharmacy on Eighth Street would be years later. He filled the home with hundreds of artworks he had collected over the years. He owns about 1,500 pieces of art total signed or appeared to have been made by Paul Gauguin, Pierre Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Winslow Homer, among others. With 300-400 exhibited at any one time, every room of the home is covered in art. Admittedly, Brown is uncertain which works are real, and which are reproduction oil paintings. He has yet to authenticate the majority of artworks in his collection. That factor doesn’t phase him, as pieces were chosen based not on how they affect him, but how they would affect traffic to his website and museum. The museum does not get many visitors, which could... Read more

Paul Gauguin paintings, Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and Cloisonnism

Jul 11 2011 11:59AM | by Staff Editor

To the relatively young (we’re talking the baby boomers generation onwards) of today, we might consider our era of globalisation and the subsequent international exchange of ideas to be uniquely our experience. Widespread and affordable transportation, in the form of commercial airplanes, has made travel available to as many people as possible in the history of humanity. We can now take off from any major city in the world and arguably traverse the globe in under 24 hours, if we felt like it. The internet has also meant instant and near total communication with anyone who has an unrestricted connection, while advances in mobile phones, computers, GPS systems and programs (Facebook, Twitter) have meant that we are the wired generation. But this interplay of ideas existed long before electricity, even. Not quite that far back in history French painter Paul Gauguin was influenced by an art force which would forever shape his oeuvre: Japanese block prints, or Ukiyo-e. As our Gauguin biography notes, Ukiyo-e had a significant influence on the artist. But exactly what did the art form and technique concern? The word “ukiyo” is literally translated as “floating world” in English and refers to an ideal similar to what... Read more

Gauguin: an update on his painting attacker and some recent sales

May 24 2011 10:04AM | by Staff Editor

Paul Gauguin made the headlines in March this year when a woman, Susan Burns, attacked an $80 million Gauguin painting. While not doubting the emotional and psychological power of Gauguin artwork, it is also worthwhile to note the emotional, psychological and criminal history of Ms Burns. According to the Washington Post’s Dan Zak, Ms Burns was banned from a department store in Arlington after she assaulted an employee in 2002. In 2005 Burns was convicted of assault and battery on an officer and served 2.5 years in prison after she threw a cup of coffee on a bartender and assaulted a detective who responded (while yelling obscenities). Earlier, in October 2000, she was also convicted of assaulting a police officer and served just over a year in prison. We could go on, but we think you get the general idea… Gauguin has more recently made the news in April 2011 with some rare offerings of his early work through New Orleans based company Rau Antiques, the USA’s largest antiques and fine arts dealer. The most noted oil painting is a still life titled Flowers in a Vase with a Musical Score completed sometime between 1874-1876. The work is significant because... Read more

Paul Gauguin Painting Attacked

May 03 2011 09:19AM | by Staff Editor

Paul Gauguin paintings are often controversial. During Gauguin's time in Tahiti, the artist painted many images of young nude women. For Gauguin, the women were beautiful but they were also a symbol of fertility and primitivism. Many of these images have been on display in both the United States and England as part of the Gauguin: Maker of Myth show. This collection has, for the most part, been enthusiastically received. But for one woman visiting the show in Washington, DC, these images were simply too much to bear. The woman stood before the Gauguin painting Two Tahitian Women. According to witnesses, the woman began screaming, "This is evil" while she attempted to pull the painting off the wall and destroy it with her fists. The woman was restrained by other visitors to the museum, and was then removed by security personnel. Plexiglas protected the painting itself, so no damage was immediately apparent. The Gauguin painting is being examined more closely now, to determine if any repairs need be made. The woman faces charges of destruction of property and attempted theft. The attacker has made no public statements about her crime at this point, so it is unclear why she attacked... Read more

Gauguin Tribute to van Gogh Fails to Sell

Apr 26 2011 10:52AM | by Staff Editor

The relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh was volatile. It has been long assumed that the two simply didn't get along and didn't care for one another. However, long after van Gogh's death, Gauguin painted a tender tribute to van Gogh, entitled Nature Morte A L'Esperance. The painting went up for auction in February of 2011, and was expected to fetch nearly $16 million. However, at the end of the auction, no buyer was found and the painting was returned to the European collector that owns it. Nature Morte A L'Esperance marks the culmination of a difficult relationship, and many elements of that relationship appear in this painting. Van Gogh dreamed of creating an art colony where he could surround himself with like-minded painters and artists and create a safe haven for the exchange of artistic ideas. Although many were invited to join, only Paul Gauguin showed up. Van Gogh was so excited about Gauguin's arrival that he painted a series of yellow sunflower paintings to decorate Gauguin's room. Gauguin admired these paintings, particularly in their use of yellow pigments. In fact, Gauguin even painted an image of van Gogh painting sunflowers. These sunflowers reappear prominently in Nature... Read more

The Popularity of Paul Gauguin

Apr 10 2011 06:01PM | by Staff Editor

An exhibit of paintings by Paul Gauguin, including many of the infamous Gauguin Tahitians, went on display at the Tate Modern in London in September of 2010. This exhibition of Gauguin at Tate Modern marks the first time in over 50 years that Gauguin paintings have been shown in a large collection in Europe. The exhibit proved so popular that the Tate Modern website stated that viewers should expect long delays for admittance. In February, the same collection of Gauguin artwork opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Curators there expect much the same response from enthusiastic art lovers in the United States. Even Apple is getting on the Gauguin-loving bandwagon: the company produced an iPhone application that downloads images from the exhibit to your phone, along with commentary from curators at the Tate Modern. Gauguin painting has always been controversial. During his time in Tahiti, Gauguin looked for a way to express the truly native and primitive. In Adam and Eve, for example, a native couple is shown with a backdrop of wild and dark vegetation. Animals of all sorts swirl around their feet and above their heads, as a benevolent angel looks down. In Arearea,... Read more