The exhibition about Paul Gauguin work is an extraordinary opportunity for collaboration between Line Clausen Pedersen, curator of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen, and Christina Hellmich, in charge of the African, American and Oceanic Art Collections at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Combining the brutal reality of the painter’s family obligations in Europe, with the enchanting one of a prolonged stay on a Pacific island, the museum offers us a very personal and unknown vision of the painter, which could as well be called “An Economic Journey”.
Stockbroker in Paris, he married a Danish woman with whom he had five children. Gauguin met the painters already known at the time, Cezanne, Pissaro, Degas, and decided to change his vocation.
The exhibition includes several impressionist paintings that seem to emanate from the masters of the time.
He met Van Gogh in Arles and moved to Brittany, where he sold paintings of his personal collection while still pursuing his artistic activity. The success being slow to come, he did not stand the gray sky and the European bourgeoisie. Gauguin decides to leave the continent.
Against all odds, his wife accepts his decision recognizing his passion for art. Gauguin settles in Tahiti and starts frantically painting. His style is free from European conventions and he perfects his solid-colors backgrounds, he is taking possession of the materials and the subjects.
Nevertheless, his family obligations taint him and he will never stop working not only to be recognized as an artist but also to support his family. Some of his paintings are compelling reminders.
Bitter, Gauguin is recognized for his talent but does not sell anything. Very agile with his hands, he also crafts many objects, more useful, more commercial, inspired by the oceanic art that surrounds him.
This decision allows him to survive and during his return to the continent, he shows the cultural purity and treasures of the Pacific to the Western world. His objects are exhibited at the Universal Exhibition.
The economic battle will continue until the end of his life.
The last paintings of the exhibition still demonstrate (talented) copies of his friends painters, those who sell better than him.
Far from the romantic vision that one can imagine on a paradisiac island, the biography of Gauguin informs us about his painting as much as his work gives us the keys of his personality. He died before he could realize his dream, leaving many heirs and a captivating work of sensuality.
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Merci Isabella Demeulenaere