"Do not finish your work too much"
Paul Gauguin was born on June 7, 1848, in
Paris and lived in Lima, Peru, from 1851 to 1855. He served in the
merchant marine from 1865 to 1871 and traveled in the tropics. Gauguin
later worked as a stockbrokers clerk in Paris but painted
in his free time. He began working with Camille Pissarro in 1874
and showed in every Impressionist exhibition between 1879 and 1886.
By 1884 Gauguin had moved with his family to Copenhagen, where he
unsuccessfully pursued a business career. He returned to Paris in
1885 to paint full-time, leaving his family in Denmark.
In 1885 Gauguin met Edgar Degas; the next
year he met Charles Laval and Emile Bernard in Pont-Aven and Vincent
van Gogh in Paris. With Laval he traveled to Panama and Martinique
in 1887 in search of more exotic subject matter. Increasingly, Gauguin
turned to primitive cultures for inspiration. In Brittany again
in 1888 he met Paul Sérusier and renewed his acquaintance
with Bernard. As self-designated Synthetists, they were welcomed
in Paris by the Symbolist literary and artistic circle. Gauguin
organized a group exhibition of their work at the Café Volpini,
Paris, in 1889, in conjunction with the Worlds Fair.
In 1891 Gauguin auctioned his paintings to
raise money for a voyage to Tahiti, which he undertook that same
year. Two years later illness forced him to return to Paris, where,
with the critic Charles Morice, he began Noa Noa, a book about Tahiti.
Gauguin was able to return to Tahiti in 1895. He unsuccessfully
attempted suicide in January 1898, not long after completing his
mural-sized painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are
We Going? In 1899 he championed the cause of French settlers in
Tahiti in a political journal, Les Guêpes, and founded his
own periodical, Le Sourire. Gauguins other writings include
Cahier pour Aline (1892), LEspirit moderne et le catholicisme
(1897 and 1902) and Avant et après (1902), all of which are
autobiographical. In 1901 the artist moved to the Marquesas, where
he died on May 8, 1903. A major retrospective of his work was held
at the Salon dAutomne in Paris in 1906.