Wednesday, November 3, 2010
G is for Gauguin
The Rogue Speaks:
Well,of course! I started Rogue Artists as a art blog, so naturally I would write about artists! Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday, Jenny Matlock's brain-child that brings all manner of bloggers out on Thursdays to enlighten, amuse, tickle, and pull on our heartstrings. In the few weeks I have been participating, I have become acquainted with so many interesting people! If you haven't participated, you should!!
I had the most wonderful art teacher when I was very young! I went to her house several afternoons a week, and while we were painting or drawing or working with clay, our teacher would read to us about famous artists. She had their paintings on the walls of our classroom, so we could learn to associate the person with their art.
I remember Gauguin, a leading French Post-impressionist, because his paintings were so colorful. He had only been dead 47 years, so it made him a mere youngster in the world of art. He boldly experimented with color in his paintings, and was a sculptor as well. He also experimented with printmaking, ceramics, and woodcuts.
Gauguin, born in Paris in 1848, spent the first four years of his life in Lima, Peru. His father had died on the trip over, and Gauguin and his sister and mother, who was part Peruvian, lived with an Uncle. Paul's art would later be influenced by images of Peru.
Gauguin joined the French navy when he was 20 in order to fulfill his military service. In 1871, he returned to Paris and went to work as a stock broker. It was there he met his wife, who bore him five children. In 1884, Gauguin moved his family to Copenhagen. He had been painting in his spare time for quite a while, but wanted to paint full-time, so in 1885 he packed up and left his family to go back to Paris and paint. He just upped and left! His poor wife had nothing to subsist on, so she was forced to take her children and move in with her family!!
In 1888, Gauguin decided to visit his friend Vincent Van Gogh, in Arles. He spent nine weeks there, painting with Van Gogh. How they ever lasted nine weeks together is beyond me! Both men suffered from severe depression, and Van Gogh was a little psychotic from eating lead-based paint. At one point, the two got into a shouting match and Van Gogh went at Gauguin with a razor blade! Van Gogh freaked out when he realized what he was doing, and he ran out. He went to a brothel, and while he was there, he cut off part of his earlobe. He wrapped it in tissue paper and gave it to a prostitute by the name of Rachael. He told Rachael to take care of it for some unknown reason.
Gauguin packed his bags and left, afraid that Van Gogh might come back and kill him. The two never saw each other again. Van Gogh was later hospitalized, and eventually died.
In 1891, Gauguin found himself destitute. He was frustrated that he had not become rich and famous with his art, so he decided to move to the tropics to escape capitalism in Europe. He decided to live the simple life and subsist on fish and fruit! He went first to Panama, where he got a job as a laborer, working on the Panama Canal. He only lasted three weeks before they fired him! After that fiasco, he went to the island of Martinique, and tried living in a hut. The weather was bloody hot and humid, and he got dysentery, probably from the fish and fruit. Then he came down with marsh fever. He managed to complete around 12 paintings before he decided to call it quits and find another island to on which to live.
He went to Tahiti, and then to Punaauia. He finally ended up on the Marquesas Islands. He lived there for the rest of his life, painting and fraternizing with the natives, particularly the women.
Gauguin never could learn to keep his mouth shut. He ended up pissing off the local church and government, so they sentenced him to three months in prison. Fortunately, though, he died before he could serve his sentence. All the years of visiting brothels, and excessive drinking, and eating unwashed fruit had really wrecked his body! It didn't help that he was also extremely depressed and angry that people didn't see him as an artistic genius. He was only 54 when he died.
Wouldn't you know it??? After he died, his paintings became popular!! I hope his heirs got some of the money from the sale of his work! Today, a Gauguin painting sells for around $40,000,000, if you can find one, that is!!