Paul Gauguin was unquestionably the most influential artist associated with the 19th century Symbolist movement. Although Gauguin avoided the heavy literary content and traditional style like other Symbolist artists, he also rejected the optical naturalism of the Impressionists, while at the same time preserving their use of color in works of art. Gauguin's ideas on Synthetism emerged from the thought of using color arbitrarily rather than to merely describe the object. Through his ideas of finding a synthesis between the subject and color, Gauguin sought to find the ideal way of depicting, that which is invisible, subjective as well as deep meanings and emotion. Gauguin spent the early years of his childhood in Peru, and he appears almost always to have has nostalgia for seemingly exotic places. From 1886 to 1887, he spent time between Paris, the Breton villages of Pont-Aven and Le Poildu. During this time, he also spent seven months in Panama and Martinique. In 1888, he had a tempestuous but productive visit with Van Gogh in Arles. In 1891, Gauguin sailed to Tahiti where he was very disappointed to discover how extensively Western missionaries and colonials had invaded upon the life of the Tahitian natives. The capital, Papeete, was filled with French government officials, and Tahitian women often covered themselves with ankle-length missionary dresses. Gauguin returned to France for two years in 1893 before settling in the South Seas for good. His final trip, in the wake of years of illness and suffering, was to the island of Hiva-Oa in the Marquesas Island, where he died in 1903 to a morphine overdose.
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