Paul Gauguin Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

1453 words - 6 pages

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Paul Gauguin is known for being one of the world's greatest painters, although he was not much appreciated at his time. His work seems to tell stories of his life. In his series of painting done in Tahiti, we can see the many wonders that Gauguin himself explored. Today Gauguin's painting run for millions. For example; Paul Gauguin's Maternite (II) done in 1899 was sold for $39.2 million. That wasn't the case back when Gauguin first started his new career. In this essay I will determine to explore Gauguin's life and his well-known painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France on June 7, 1848. Gauguin's family was middle class people with a liberal outlook on life. His father, Clovis, was a journalist, and his own family were gardeners, and had been for generations. His mother's family was Peruvian aristocrats, and some of them were famous.
Gauguin's early life was interesting as the family did not remain in Paris, but instead spent four years in Peru. Gauguin, who eventually became an artist, did not give any early indications that he was leaning in that direction. He worked in the French merchant marine for a time, and then became a stockbroker in Paris. His career was a successful one, and he married and had five children. Everything in his life appeared to be settling down comfortably, but before long, all of that would change.
In 1874, Gauguin met the artist Camille Pissarro and then later saw the first exhibition of impressionist art. From that time on, Gauguin became intrigued with art and in fact became a collector of art and then an amateur painter. However, before long, painting became so important to him that he himself exhibited some of his works with other impressionists between 1876 and 1886. By 1883 he had decided to devote himself full-time to painting, a profession that had no secure income.
As Gauguin's wife realized that her husband would no longer be able to support her and their five children, she returned to her family, leaving Gauguin to pursue his art on his own. Between 1886 and 1891 Gauguin lived mostly in rural Brittany, although he did visit Panama and Martinique during that period of time. In Brittany, however, Gauguin was the center of a small group of experimental painters who were known as the school of Pont-Aven.
Gauguin began to turn away from impressionism, and eventually began to adopt a less naturalistic style. His inspirations came from medieval stained glass, the lives of indigenous peoples, and Japanese prints. Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh introduced Gauguin to Japanese prints when the two men spent two months together at Arles in the south of France in 1888.
By 1891, Gauguin was greatly in debt. He was also depressed, feeling that the civilized world around him was artificial. He left France to go to the South Seas to escape European...

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