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Paul Gauguin  

b. 1848 Paris, France, d. 1903 Atuona, Marquesas Islands
painter; draftsman

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"May the day come soon when I'll be myself in the woods of an ocean island! To live there in ecstasy, calmness and art.... There in Tahiti I shall be able to listen to the sweet murmuring music of my heart's beating in the silence of the beautiful tropical nights."
--Paul Gauguin

Writing to his wife in 1887, Paul Gauguin expressed his desire to seek an earthly paradise in the South Seas. He arrived in Tahiti in 1891. While painting idealized visions of Polynesian culture, he relied on the Tahitians to provide him with food, models, and female companionship. Gauguin remained in Tahiti for two years, producing sculptures, woodcuts, and images of young women in Edenic landscapes.

Gauguin first became enthusiastic about painting in the 1860s. By 1874 he was working with Camille Pisarro, who drew him into the Impressionist circle. Quickly abandoning Impressionism, he began using simplified lines and recurring shapes, covering the picture surface with large areas of flat color bounded by clearly marked lines. In the fall of 1888, Gauguin joined Vincent van Gogh in Arles, but the two quickly parted ways. Gauguin abandoned Europe permanently in 1895, having failed to sell many of the works from his first Tahitian excursion. He died in the Marquesas Islands in 1903.

1-4 of 4

Tahitian Woman / Gauguin
Tahitian Woman

French, about 1892

Arii Matamoe / Gauguin
Arii Matamoe

French, Tahiti, 1892

Head with Horns / Gauguin
Head with Horns

French, 1895-1897

Eve (The Nightmare) / Gauguin
Eve (The Nightmare)

French, about 1899