Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France, on June 7, 1848, at the time of the fall of the July Monarchy as a result of the February Revolution. Since then, the French Republic had been actively expanding its imperial hegemony, with India, West and Central Africa, and most of Polynesia in the south-central Pacific Ocean coming under French control by the end of the 19th century. Against such a significant era, Gauguin's life trajectory changed during the turbulent years. He was a representative of Impressionism, and in addition to painting, he was also accomplished in sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and writing. His use of color led to the creation of Synthetism, which, together with the influence of Cloisonnism, also paved the way for the creation of Primitivism.
In 1873, 25-year-old stockbroker Gauguin married 23-year-old Mette-Sophie Gad and began painting in his spare time. By this time, Gauguin had already met Camille Pissarro, a well-liked Impressionist, the only painter to have participated in all eight Impressionist exhibitions and the center of a small group of Impressionist painters. Through Pissarro, Gauguin entered the Impressionist world and interacted with many artists in the art circle. In 1880-1881, he exhibited his paintings for the first time at the Fifth Impressionist Exhibition. In 1882 the collapse of the French stock market caused the Gauguin family to lose their financial resources and made it more difficult to sell his work, forcing him to sell his cherished art collection.
Life after Becoming a Full-fledged Painter
In 1883, Gauguin officially became a professional painter. At the same time, his family disagreed over financial income, and his wife returned to Copenhagen to work and live with their children. Gauguin came to Copenhagen under his wife's desire and accepted a job as a tarpaulin salesman despite not knowing the language there. After a year, he finally decided that he did not want to live like this anymore because the job was so humiliating, and he could not balance his painting with his work. He finally chose to leave the place and return to Paris.
After returning to Paris from Copenhagen, Gauguin began searching for inspiration worldwide. In 1886, at the age of 38, Gauguin participated in the eighth Impressionist exhibition in Paris, but this time it was not him but Georges Seurat, the master of Pointillism whom Gauguin did not like, who became the spotlight of the exhibition. This was also the year he parted ways with Pissarro and left Paris to paint in the small town of Pont-Aven in Brittany. He met and mentored the 24-year-old Sérusier, and Gauguin's work, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, made a strong impression on the future Nabis artist. In the winter of 1888, Gauguin was invited and led a commission to spend nine weeks with Van Gogh in Arles, southern France. The relationship between the two finally broke down and ended with Van Gogh cutting off his ear. After 1891, Gauguin's growing boredom with civilized society led him to Tahiti in the Pacific, where he would build a "tropical studio" in the form of an African lodge. In 1893, Gauguin returned from Tahiti to Marseille, France, and then back to Tahiti two years later. In 1903, Gauguin's life was coming to an end. In a letter to a friend, he wrote: "In my work, 'wildness replaces humanity,' which is the source of surprise and bewilderment, and what makes my work unique."
Gauguin's paintings originated in Impressionism, but his anti-impressionism has earned him a place in the world's art history. He believes that Impressionism advocates describing the nature of sight, which means human beings should obey the nature of visual cognition. However, in Gauguin's view, human beings must control nature. His paintings have a unique decorative character in terms of form. Gauguin's paintings are characterized by simplicity, regional color flatness, and highly generalized, simple, yet formal images with a strong sense of decoration and formal beauty.
In 1897, Gauguin created a painting named Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? This philosophical and mystical painting is one of the most famous paintings of Gauguin's entire career. The whole painting is full of primitive, simple, symbolic and mysterious, showing clearly and distinctly the three processes of human beings from birth to death. The painter used a dreamy form to draw the viewer into a temporal continuum that seems to be real and not real. His other work, Two Tahitian Women, is also one of his masterpieces, in which the primitiveness of expression is pursued, containing delicate interest and artistic charm.