Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Moss Roses in a Basket, 1886

Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Moss Roses in a Basket, 1886, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Paul Gauguin, born on June 7th, 1848, in Paris France! Gauguin, in his efforts to move as far away from Impressionism as possible, created a new style, Synthetism, along with Emile Bernard and Louis Anquetin. Synthetism, a technique which differentiates naturalistic impressionism from a more scientific one, aimed to combine natural forms with their artistic feeling counterpart. Gauguin, originally a stock broker by trade, didn’t start painting until 1880, however, at this time, he was still employing an Impressionistic style, as his main influencers and first introduction to the world of art were Realist painters such as Gustave Courbet, Jean Baptiste Camille Carot, and pre-Impressionists such as Theodore Rousseau and Charles Francois Daubigny. Upon losing his job in 1882 due to the crash of the stock market Gauguin decided to make art his main means of profit. He traveled to Brittany, Pont Aven in 1886, a trip that proved to be a turning point in his artistic career which saw a shift from his Impressionist style towards a Symbolist approach, a style which mimicked stained glass windows and employed flat, radiant colors and strong, bold outlines. A few years later Gauguin sailed, with his artist friend Charles Laval to Panama and Martinique, and it was there that Paul discovered his interest of the natural environment and primitivism. In late 1888 Gauguin met another young artist, Vincent van Gogh, and upon his invitation, joined Van Gogh at Arles, south of France, to live and work together for nine weeks. It was during this stay that the two artists, both known to be dealing with depression and strained by intense artistic discussions, got into an argument over the origin of art and its purpose. In the heat of the argument, van Gogh famously sliced off a part of his own ear while threatening Gauguin with a razor. Gauguin left to stay at a hotel, while van Gogh wrapped up the severed part of his ear and headed to a brothel to present said body part to a prostitute. After leaving Arles Gauguin returned to Paris, however, by this point, the artist was disenchanted by the increasingly industrialized and artificial culture of Europe, and motivated by the need to be closer to nature and perhaps get in touch with a more spiritual side, Gauguin left his wife and four children behind and permanently relocated to Tahiti. Forever motivated by the idea of being able to express the inner meaning, or feeling, of an object, this move to French Polynesia was an incredibly fruitful decision for his work. His style evolved into a more symbolic representation as opposed to portraying his subjects at face value. Pictured here is Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Moss Roses in a Basket, 1886, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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