Tuesday Art ATTACK- Eugène Henri Paul Gaunguin “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? ”
Posted on January 06 2015
Eugène Henri Paul Gaunguin was born on June 7th 1848 in the art epicenter of the world, Paris. Shortly after in 1850 Gaunguin's family uprooted and moved to Peru due to political as well as social issues. On the Journey to their new home Gaunguin's father, Clovis, died. Leaving his wife Alina to care for Gaunguin and his sister. The family lived in Lima, Peru with Alina's brother and the rest of his family. It was in Peru that Ganguin grew very fond of the ancient pottery of the Incan's. When Gaunguin turned seventeen his mother moved the family back to Orlèans, France. Here was sent to a Catholic boarding school named La Chapelle-Saint Mesim. After spending three years at the school he left and joined the French Navy in which he served a term of two years to fulfill his military service requirement. In 1871 his term was up, but upon returning home he was informed of the death of his mother. He was devastated. Gaunguin secured a job as a stockbroker in Paris and became a successful businessman. During his time as a businessman he often painted in his off time and developed a deep love for painting. In Paris he met Mette-Sophie Gad. He married this sweet Danish firecracker in 1873 and over the next ten years they had five children. Sadly due to several reasons, the foremost being Gaunguin's desire to paint full time, his family fell apart. Gaunguin moved to Paris once more in order to pursue his dreams of becoming a painter. Gaunguin visited the impressionist cafe's and numerous art galleries in Paris. He befriended another painter named Camille Pissarro and the two spent many long days painting with one another in Pissarro's garden. Along with several other of his contemporaries Gaunguin felt that the art of Europe had become to imitative and lacked symbolic depth compared to the art of Africa or Asia. He took many trips with these fellow artist such as Emile Bernard and Charles Laval to Pont-Aven in Brittany. This bold colony of artists with their vibrant color pallets and mystic subject matter are now referred to as the Pont-Aven School. During these trips Gaunguin grew very close to Emile Bernard and their styles began to evolve off of and influence one another. This interaction between the two artists is arguably one of the most important contributing factors to Gaunguin's evolution as an artist. In 1887 Gaunguin moved to the island of Martinique near Panama. He moved here with fellow artist Charles Laval. The two lived in an adobe hut and painted as well as explored the islands landscape and people. During his stay he completed eleven known paintings. Nearing the end of his life Paul Gaunguin set sail for Tahiti in 1895 never to return to France. He was tired of European society and referred to it as " everything that is artificial and conventional." While in Tahiti his main subject for his paintings consisted of the local people. The paintings from this time give an excellent insight into everyday Tahitian life and the customs of the Tahitian people, however they also portray a somewhat exorcised view of the inhabitants of the island. Gaunguin died on the 8th of May in 1903 at the age of 54 on the island of Tahiti. His cause of death is still not entirely clear to this day, but is most likely that he suffered from a heart attack. The work of Gaunguin was not fully appreciated in his time, but has gone on to influence many great artists. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse where both highly influenced by the work of Gaunguin, particularly his extremely innovative use of line, color, and space.