Paul Gauguin

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search
Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ (1889); - quote of Gauguin, 1897: 'A time will come when people will think I am a myth, or rather something the newspapers have made up'

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (7 June 18488 May 1903) was a French Post-Impressionist painter; From 1895 he lived and painted in Papeete on Tahiti.

Quotes of Paul Gauguin[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the date of Gauguin's quotes
Gauguin, 1878: 'Mette Gauguin (portrait of his wife) / La Brodeuse', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Foundation E.G. Bührle, Zurich
Gauguin, 1879: 'The Market Gardens of Vaugirard / Les Jardins du Marché de Vaugirard', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; - quote of Gauguin, April, 1879: 'My Dear Mr. Pissarro; - I accept with pleasure the invitation [to become member of their Association of Painters] that you and Mr. Degas were kind enough to extend to me.'
Gauguin, 1884: 'Blue roofs of Rouen', oil-painting on canvas; private collection: Oskar Reinhart
Gauguin, 1886: 'Washerwomen at Pont-Aven', Britanny, oil-painting on canvas; current location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris; - Gauguin spent extended periods in the area of Pont-Aven, in the later 1880's and early 1890', frequently with Émile Bernard and their common students: the so-called Pont-Aven School
Gauguin, 1888: 'The Vision After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel)', oil on canvas; current location: Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; - critical quote by Camille Pissarro, 20 April 1891: ' The Japanese practised this art.. .What I dislike is that he copied these elements from the Japanese, the Byzantine painters and others. I criticize him for not applying his synthesis to our modern philosophy which is absolutely social, anti-authoritarian.. .Gauguin is not a seer, he is a schemer.. .The symbolists also take this line! What do you think? They must be fought like the pest!'
Gauguin, 1888: 'Breton Girls Dancing, Pont-Aven', Britanny, oil-painting on canvas; current location: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Gauguin, 1888: 'The Swineherd', Brittany, oil-painting on canvas; current location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art U.S.; - quote of Paul Sérusier, 1888: 'Gauguin insisted on.. ..a harmonious apportionment of light and dark colors, the simplification of forms and proportions, so as to endow the outline's of forms with a powerful and eloquent expression.. ..upon luminous and pure colors'
Gauguin, 1888: 'Vincent van Gogh painting sunflowers', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; - quote of Vincent van Gogh, 1890: 'A few days before we parted [in Arles], when illness forced me to enter an asylum, I tried to paint 'his empty place'. It is a study of his armchair of dark, red-brown wood, the seat of greenish straw, and in the absent person's place a lighted candlestick and some modern novels'
Gauguin, 1888: 'The Night Cafe, Arles / Café de Nuit, Arles', oil on canvas; current location: Pushkin Museum Moscow; - quote by Robert Hughes, about Gauguin: 'One may wonder if any painter in the last century put more meaning into his sense of color than Gauguin'
Gauguin, 1889: 'La Belle Angele, oil on canvas; Musée d'Orsay
Gauguin, 1889: 'Breton Way of the Cross - the Green Christ', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium; - quote of Gauguin, in a letter to Theo van Gogh, 1889: 'With this painting, I tried to make everything breathe faith, quiet suffering, religious and primitive style and great nature with its scream'
Gauguin, 1890: 'Nègreries Martinique', gouache, watercolor, ink and gold paint on paper mounted on board; private collection
Gauguin, 1891: 'Tahitian Women on the Beach', oil on canvas; current location: Musée d'Orsay Paris; - quote of Gauguin, 1892-93: 'A young man who is unable to commit a folly is already an old man'
Gauguin, 1892: 'By the Sea / (Tahitian;) Fatata te Miti', oil-painting on canvas; current location: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; - quote of Gauguin, 1895: 'In order to produce something new, you have to return to the original source, to the childhood of mankind'
Gauguin, 1892: 'We Shall Not Go to the Market Today / (Tahitian:) Te Matete', oil on canvas; current location, Kunstmuseum, Basel
Gauguin, 1893: 'Portrait of the artist [Gauguin] with hat', oil-painting on canvas; location unknown
Gauguin, 1894: 'Day of the God / (Tahitian:) Mahana no atua', oil on canvas; current location: Art Institute of Chicago U.S.
Gauguin, 1897: 'Nevermore', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Courtauld Institute of Art; - quote of Stéphane Mallarmé: 'It is extraordinary that anyone could put so much mystery into so much brightness'
Gauguin, 1897: 'Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?', oil-painting on canvas - quote of Gauguin, c. 1900: 'I was so bent on putting all my energy in its before dying, such painful passion amid terrible circumstances, and such a clear vision without corrections..'
Gauguin, 1899: 'Women on the Seashore (Motherhood I)', oil-painting on canvas; Hermitage Museum Moscow
Gauguin, 1901: 'And the gold of their bodies', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Gauguin, 1902: 'Young Girl With Fan', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Museum Folkwang, Essen Germany
  • My Dear Mr. Pissarro; - I accept with pleasure the invitation that you and Mr. Degas were kind enough to extend to me. And naturally in that case I shall abide by all the rules that govern your Societe. Based on this decision, I also have the membership dues available. I will probably see you at Miss Latouche's and we will talk about this.
  • Painting is the most beautiful of all arts. In it, all sensations are condensed, at its aspect everyone may create romance at the will of his imagination, and at a glance have his soul invaded by the most profound memories, no efforts of memory, everything summed up in one moment. Complete art which sums up all the others and completes them. Like music, it acts on the soul through the intermediary of the senses, the harmonious tones corresponding to the harmonies of sounds, but in painting, a unity is obtained which is not possible in music, where the accords follow one another, and the judgement experiences a continuous fatigue if one wants to reunite the end and the beginning. In the main, the ear is an inferior sense to the eye. The hearing can only grasp a single sound at one time, whereas the sight takes in everything and at the same time simplifies at its will.
    • La peinture est le plus beau de tous les arts; en lui se résument toutes les sensations, à son aspect chacun peut, au gré de son imagination, créer le roman, d'un seul coup d'œil avoir l'âme envahie par les plus profonds souvenirs; point d'effort de mémoire, tout résumé en un seul instant. — Art complet qui résume tous les autres et les complète. — Comme la musique, il agit sur l'âme par l'intermédiaire des sens, les tons harmonieux correspondant aux harmonies des sons; mais en peinture on obtient une unité impossible en musique où les accords viennent les uns après les autres, et le jugement éprouve alors une fatigue incessante s'il veut réunir la fin au commencement. En somme, l'oreille est un sens inférieur à celui de l'œil. L'ouïe ne peut servir qu'à un seul son à la fois, tandis que la vue embrasse tout, en même temps qu'à son gré elle simplifie.
      • Quote of Gaugain from Notes Synthéthiques (ca. 1884-1885), ed. Henri Mahaut, in Vers et prose (July-September 1910), p. 52; translation from John Rewald, Gauguin (Hyperion Press, 1938), p. 161.
  • This Cézanne [a 'Still life with Compotier, Fruit and Glass', Cézanne made c. 1879-1882!!], that you ask me for is a pearl of exceptional quality and I already have refused three hundred francs for it; it is one of my most treasured possessions, and except in absolute necessity, I would give up my last shirt before the picture.
    • Quote in a letter (June 1888) to Gauguin's friend Émile Schuffenecker; as quoted in Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition, Anne Distel, Michel Hoog, Charles S. Moffett, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York, N.Y.) 1975, p. 56
  • How do you see this tree? Is it really green? Use green, then, the most beautiful green on your palette. And that shadow, rather blue? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible.
    • Comment voyez-vous cet arbre? Il est bien vert? Mettez donc du vert, le plus beau vert de votre palette; — et cette ombre, plutôt bleue? Ne craignez pas la peindre aussi bleue que possible.
    • Quote from a conversation in 1888, Pont-Aven, with Paul Sérusier as quoted by w:Maurice Denis, inL'influence de Paul Gauguin, in Occident (October 1903) and published in Du symbolisme au classicisme. Théories (1912), ed. Olivier Revault d'Allonnes (Paris, 1964), p. 51.
  • Life at Papeete soon became a burden.

    It was Europe, the Europe which I had thought to shake off — and that under the aggravating circumstances of colonial snobbism, and the imitation, grotesque even to the point of caricature, of our customs, fashions, vices, and absurdities of civilization.

    Was I to have made this far journey, only to find the very thing which I had fled?

  • Many people say that I don't know how to draw because I don't draw particular forms. When will they understand that execution, drawing and color (in other words, style) must be in harmony with the poem?
    • Letter to Charles Morice (July 1901), from French Paintings and Painters from the Fourteenth Century to Post-Impressionism, ed. Gerd Muesham [Frederick Ungar, 1970, ISBN 0-8044-6521-5], p. 551.
  • Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge — and has to content oneself with dreaming.
  • With what is he concerned? Drawing was at its lowest ebb; it had to be restored. Looking at these nudes, I exclaim, 'Drawing has come back again!'
    As a man and painter he sets an example. 'Degas' is one of those rare masters who could have had anything he wanted, yet he scorned decorations, honors, fortune, without bitterness, without jealousy.
    • Quote of Paul Gauguin, in Avant et après (1903)
  • I have lingered among the nymphs of Corot, dancing in the sacred wood of Ville-d'Avray.
    • quote in a letter, late in Gauguin's life, from the Marquesas-Islands; as quoted by Colin B. Bailey, in The Annenberg Collection: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-impressionism, publish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, p. 185
  • If we observe the totality of Camille Pissarro's works, we find there, despite the fluctuations, not only an extreme artistic will which never lies, but what is more, an essentially intuitive pure-bred art.. .He looked at everybody, you say! Why not? Everyone looked at him, too, but denied him. He was one of my masters and I do not deny him.
    • Quote by Paul Gauguin c. 1902, in Racontars d'un Rapin, Paul Gauguin; as quoted in 'Introduction' of Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien, ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro – (translated from the unpublished French letters by Lionel Abel); Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 15
    • After Paul Cezanne it was Gauguin who came to ask advice and painted landscape at the side of the much elder Pissarro. The traces of this apprenticeship as an impressionist were soon to disappear from Gauguin's works, but shortly before he died, he wrote these sentences about his former teacher
  • In Europe men and women have intercourse because they love each other. In the South Seas they love each other because they have had intercourse. Who is right?

The Writings of a Savage (1990)[edit]

Quotes from: The Writings of a Savage (1990), an anthology of writings by Paul Gauguin [Paragon House, ed. Daniel Guérin, trans. Eleanor Levieux, ISBN 1-55778-272-5]
  • I must confess that I too am a woman and that I am always prepared to applaud a woman who is more daring than I, and is equal to a man in fighting for freedom of behavior.
    • Quote from Le Sourire (Tahiti, August 1899), p. xxvii.
  • A great sentiment can be rendered immediately. Dream on it and look for the simplest form in which you can express it.
  • Nature has mysterious infinities and imaginative power. It is always varying the productions it offers to us. The artist himself is one of nature's means.
  • I am leaving in order to have peace and quiet, to be rid of the influence of civilization. I want only to do simple, very simple art, and to be able to do that, I have to immerse myself in virgin nature, see no one but savages, live their life, with no other thought in mind but to render, the way a child would, the concepts formed in my brain and to do this with the aid of nothing but the primitive means of art, the only means that are good and true.
    • Quoted in the interview 'Paul Gauguin Discussing His Paintings', Jules Huret, printed in L'Écho de Paris, (23 February 1891) p. 48.
  • I am a great artist and I know it. It's because of what I am that I have endured so much suffering, so as to pursue my vocation, otherwise I would consider myself a rogue — which is what many people think I am, for that matter. Oh well, what difference does it make. What upsets me the most is not so much the poverty as the things that perpetually get in the way of my art, which I cannot carry out the way I feel and which I would carry out if it weren't for the poverty that is like a straitjacket. You tell me I am wrong to stay away from the artist[ic] center. No, I am right; I've known for a long time what I am doing and why I am doing it. My artistic center is in my brain and nowhere else, and I am strong because I am never thrown off-course by other people and because I do what is in me.
    • Original: Je suis un grand artiste et je le sais. C'est parce que je le suis que j'ai tellement enduré de souffrances. Pour poursuivre ma voie, sinon je me considérerai comme un brigand. Ce que je suis du reste pour beaucoup de personnes. Enfin, qu'importe! Ce qui me chagrine le plus c'est moins la misère que les empêchements perpétuels à mon art que je ne puis faire comme je le sens et comme je pourais le faire sans la misère qui me lie les bras. Tu me dis que j'ai tort de rester éloigné du centre artistique. Non, j'ai raison, je sais depuis longtemps ce que je fais et pourquoi je le fais. Mon centre artistique est dans mon cerveau et pas ailleurs et je suis fort parce que je ne suis jamais dérouté par les autres et je fais ce qui est en moi.
      • Letter to his wife, Mette (Tahiti, March 1892), pp. 53-54.
  • A young man who is unable to commit a folly is already an old man.
    • Manuscript, known as 'Cahier pour Aline' (ca. 1892-1893), p. 68.
  • Your Nordic blue eyes looked attentively at the paintings hanging on the walls. I felt stirrings of rebellion: a whole clash between your civilization and my barbarism. Civilization from which you suffer. Barbarism which for me is a rejuvenation.
    • Original: Votre œil bleu du nord regardait attentivement les tableaux pendus aux murs. J’eus comme le pressentiment d’une révolte : tout un choc entre votre civilisation et ma barbarie. Civilisation dont vous souffrez. Barbarie qui est pour moi un rajeunissement.
  • In art, there are only two types of people: revolutionaries and plagiarists. And in the end, doesn't the revolutionary's work become official, once the State takes it over?
    • from his letter, published in Le Soir, (25 April 1895), p. 107
  • Copying nature — what is that supposed to mean? Follow the masters! But why should one follow them? The only reason they are masters is that they didn't follow anybody!
    • Quote by Eugène Tardieu, 'Interview with Paul Gauguin,' in L'Écho de Paris, (13 May 1895), p. 108
  • In order to produce something new, you have to return to the original source, to the childhood of mankind.
    • Quote by Eugène Tardieu, 'Interview with Paul Gauguin,' in L'Écho de Paris, (13 May 1895), p. 110
  • A time will come when people will think I am a myth, or rather something the newspapers have made up.
  • As I wanted to suggest a luxuriant and untamed type of nature, a tropical sun that sets aglow everything around it, I was obliged to give my figures a suitable setting.

    It is indeed the outdoor life — yet intimate at the same time, in the thickets and the shady streams, these women whispering in an immense palace decorated by nature itself, with all the riches that Tahiti has to offer. This is the reason behind all these fabulous colors, this subdued and silent glow.

    "But none of this exists!"

    "Oh yes it does, as an equivalent of the grandeur, the depth, the mystery of Tahiti, when you have to express it on a canvas measuring only one square meter."

    Very subtle, very knowing in her naïveté is the Tahitian Eve. The riddle hiding in the depth of her childlike eyes is still incommunicable to me.

    • Diverse Choses, notebook (1896 - 1898), p. 137.
  • My eyes close and uncomprehendingly see the dream in the infinite space that stretches away, elusive, before me.
    • Original: Mes yeux se ferment pour voir sans comprendre le rêve dans l'espace infini qui fuit devant moi.
  • No one wants my painting because it is different from other people's — peculiar, crazy public that demands the greatest possible degree of originality on the painter's part and yet won't accept him unless his work resembles that of the others!
  • You have long known what I have tried to establish: the right to dare everything; yet the difficulty I have had finding enough money to live on has been too great, and my capacities have not produced a very big result but the mechanism has got underway nevertheless. The public does not owe me anything because the pictorial work I have done is only relatively good, but the painters who benefit from that freedom today do owe me something.

The Writings of a Savage (1996)[edit]

Quotes from: The Writings of a Savage (1996), an anthology of writings by Paul Gauguin, ed. Daniel Guérin, trans. Eleanor Levieux, Da Capo Press, New York, 1996
  • freely and madly; you will make progress.. .Above all, don't sweat over a painting; a great sentiment can be rendered immediately.. .Don't copy nature too closely. Art is an abstraction; as you dream amide nature, extrapolate art from it and concentrate on what you will create as a result.
    • pp. 5 & 22: advising a fellow painter, 1885
  • I do not paint by copying nature. Everything I do springs from my wild imagination.
  • In my figures [of his famous painting 'Vision After the Sermon'] I have achieved a great simplicity, which is both rustic and superstitious... ..In this picture the landscape and the struggle [between Jacob wrestling with the angel ] exist only in the imagination of the people whom the sermon has moved to prayer. That's why there is a contrast between the people, depicted naturally, and the struggle in its unnatural and disproportioned landscape.
  • I borrow some subject or other from life or from nature, and, using it as a pretext, I arrange lines and colors so as to obtain symphonies, harmonies that do not represent a thing that is real, in the vulgar sense of the word, and do not directly express any idea, but are supposed to make you think the way music is supposed to make you think, unaided by ideas or images, simply through the mysterious affinities that exist between our brains and such arrangements of colors and lines.
    • p. 109
  • I love Brittany; I find wildness and primitiveness there. When my wooden shoes ring on this granite, I hear the muffled, dull, and powerful tone which I try to achieve in painting.
    • p. 109: in a letter to a friend, c. 1886
  • The critic asks me: 'So you are a Symbolist? I mean well and I would like to learn; why don't you explain Symbolism to me'.. I answer.. .'Well, my paintings probably speak Hebrew, which you do not understand, so there is no point in continuing the conversation.
    • p. 130; quote, 1898
  • ..color being enigmatic in itself.. ..then to be logical we cannot use it any other way than enigmatically..
    • p. 145
  • ..so before I died I wanted to paint a large canvas that I had worked out in my head, and all month long I worked [on Tahiti] day and night at fever pitch.. .It's all done without a model.
  • I was so bent on putting all my energy in its 'Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going' before dying [suffering from syphilis, Gauguin decided to commit suicide at the end], such painful passion amid terrible circumstances, and such a clear vision without corrections that the hastiness of it disappears and life bursts from it. It does not stink of models, professionalism, and the so-called rules that I have always disregarded.
    • p. 160: Gauguin, quote in a letter from Tahiti to a friend
  • At the age of ten, twenty, a hundred, very young, a little older, and very old, an artist is always an artist. Isn't he better at some times, some moments, than at others? Never impeccable, since he is a living, human being?
    • p. 219: quote 1903
  • At an exhibition in London, one sagacious critic wrote: 'Monsieur Degas seems a good pupil of Nittis!' Doesn't this reflect that mania which men of letters have for squabbling in court over who had a given idea first? And the mania spreads to painters who take great care of their originality.
    • p. 219: quote 1898

Quotes about Paul Gauguin[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the dates of the quotes about Paul Gauguin
  • My dear Lucien, Yesterday Gauguin came to spend the holidays and make some studies. He told me that he was working on a project which may materialize some time, the project is to make models for impressionist tapestries. He asked me to try my hand at this, and do something revolutionary. Naturally I accepted, mostly with the idea of opening up a field for you [Lucien]. Evidently this is an easily exploited field of industrial art, only one must draw, and draw often. When something develops I shall let you know.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Osny, 16 June 1883, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 35-36
  • Yesterday I received a letter from Gauguin, who probably had heard from Durand that I did some good work here. He is going to look me up and study the place's possibilities from the point of view of art and practicality. He is naive enough to think that since the people in Rouen are very wealthy, they can easily be induced to buy some paintings.. .Gauguin disturbs me very much, he is so deeply commercial, at least he gives that impression. I haven't the heart to point out to him how false and unpromising is his attitude.. ..his needs are great, his family being used to luxury, just the same his attitude can only hurt him.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Rouen 31 October 1883, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 44
  • [..according to Gauguin] the impression of nature must be wedded to the aesthetic sentiment which chooses, arranges, simplifies and synthesizes. The painter ought not to rest until he has given birth to the child of his imagination.. ..begotten in a union of his mind with reality. Gauguin insisted on a logical construction of composition, on a harmonious apportionment of light and dark colors, the simplification of forms and proportions, so as to endow the outline's of forms with a powerful and eloquent expression.. ..He also insisted upon luminous and pure colors.
    • Quote of Paul Sérusier, 1888, about Paul Gauguin; in Pierre Bonnard, John Rewald; MoMA - distribution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1918, p. 13
    • Sérusier encountered in his summer vacation in Pont-Aven in Brittany [Summer 1888], briefly Paul Gauguin. He also made there a small landscape, painted under Gauguin's direction. Back in Paris, October 1888, Sérusier explained his Nabis friends (Denis, Pierre Bonnard and Vuillard) the artistic lessons Gauguin taught him - as reported by John Rewald, in his book Pierre Bonnard, p. 13-14
  • Gauguin interests me very much as a man — very much. For a long time now it has seemed to me that in our nasty profession of painting we are most sorely in need of men with the hands and the stomachs of workmen. More natural tastes — more loving and more charitable temperaments — than the decadent dandies of the Parisian boulevards have. Well, here we are without the slightest doubt in the presence of a virgin creature with savage instincts. With Gauguin blood and sex prevail over ambition.
  • Gauguin, if he'll accept it, you [Theo] shall give him a version of the [painting] 'Berceuse' (see:[[2]] that wasn't mounted on a stretching frame, and to Bernard too, as a token of friendship. But if Gauguin wants sunflowers it's only absolutely fair that he gives you something that you like as much in exchange. Gauguin himself above all liked the sunflowers later, when he had seen them for a long time.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to Theo, from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, c. 23 May 1889 - original manuscript of letter 776, at Van Gogh Museum, location Amsterdam - inv. nos. b322 a-c V/1962, see the letter [[3]]
    • Van Gogh wanted Gauguin to have the two repetitions: 'Sunflowers in a vase' [see [[4]] and 'Sunflowers in a vase' [[5]]
  • Paul Gauguin, that curious artist, that alien whose mien and the look in whose eyes vaguely remind one of Rembrandt's 'Portrait of a Man' in the Galerie Lacaze — this friend of mine likes to make one feel that 'a good picture is equivalent to a good deed'; not that he says so, but it is difficult to be on intimate terms with him without being aware of a certain moral responsibility. A few days before we parted, when illness forced me to enter an asylum, I tried to paint 'his empty place'. It is a study of his armchair of dark, red-brown wood, the seat of greenish straw, and in the absent person's place a lighted candlestick and some modern novels.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to Theo, from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 9 or 10 February 1890 (1890), published in The Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, Vol. 3 (1958) New York Graphic Society, p. 256; see original letter: [[6]]
    • 'Gauguin's chair', (see [[7]]). Van Gogh painted this painting around 19 November, at which time he described it as a 'rather funny' study (see letter 721). That he painted it several days before Gauguin's departure as a symbol of his empty seat is an interpretation given here with hindsight
  • Brother Nabi, ..first of all, forgive the incoherence of my last letter. I am feeling remorsed about what I told you about Paul Gauguin. There is no humbug about him, not, at any rate, with respect to those he knows are capable of understanding him. I have lived with him for the past fifteen days in the closest association [in [[w:Pont-Aven|Pont-Aven]. We share a room. I have told him what I dislike about his work; what I said can be regarded as a sally against the ingrained habits of contemporary painting.
    • Quote of Paul Sérusier, from his letter (Pont-Aven, Brittanny), to Maurice Denis, June/July 1889; in ABC de la peinture, ;Paris, Floury, 1950, p. 42-45; as quoted in Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology, ed. Henri Dorra; University of California Press, 1994, p. 237-38
  • His art is strangely cerebral and passionate, uneven still, but poignant and superb in its very unevenness. A sorrowful work, for to understand it, to feel the shock of it, we ourselves must know sorrow and the irony of sorrow, which is the threshold of mystery. It sometimes rises to the height of the mystical act of faith; sometimes it obliterates itself and grimaces in the gloom of doubt. It always emanates the bitter and violent aroma of the poisons of the flesh. There is a dazzling and savory mixture of barbaric splendor, Catholic liturgy, Hindu reverie, Gothic imagery, and obscure and subtle symbolism; there are harsh realities and distraught flights into poetry, through which M. Gauguin creates an altogether new and personal art — the art of a painter and poet, of an apostle and demon, an art which instills anguish.
    • Oeuvre étrangement cérébrale, passionnante, inégale encore, mais jusque dans ses inégalités poignante et superbe. Oeuvre douloureuse, car pour la comprendre, pour en ressentir le choc, il faut avoir soi-même connu la douleur et l'ironie de la douleur, qui est le seuil du mystère. Parfois, elle s'élève jusqu'à la hauteur d'un mystique acte de foi; parfois, elle s'efface et grimace dans les ténèbres du doute. Et, toujours émane d'elle l'amer et violent arôme des poisons de la chair. Il y a dans cette œuvre un mélange inquiétant et savoureux de splendeur barbare, de liturgie catholique, de rêverie indoue, d'imagerie gothique, de symbolisme obscur et subtil; il ya des réalités âpres et des vols éperdus de poésie, par où Gauguin crée un art absolument personnel et tout nouveau; art de peintre et de poète, d'apôtre et de démon, et qui angoisse.
    • Quote of Octave Mirbeau, 'Paul Gauguin,' in L'Écho de Paris, 16 February 1891
  • The Japanese practised this art as did the Chinese, and their symbols are wonderfully natural, but then they were not Catholics, and Gauguin is a Catholic. - I do not criticize Gauguin for having painted a rose background nor do I object to the two struggling fighters and the Breton peasants in the foreground. What I dislike is that he copied these elements from the Japanese, the Byzantine painters and others. I criticize him for not applying his synthesis to our modern philosophy which is absolutely social, anti-authoritarian and anti-mystical. - There is where the problem becomes serious. This is a step backwards; Gauguin is not a seer, he is a schemer.. .The symbolists also take this line! What do you think? They must be fought like the pest!
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter to his son Lucien, 20 April 1891, from: Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien, ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro – (translated from the unpublished French letters by Lionel Abel); Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 163
  • It is extraordinary that anyone could put so much mystery into so much brightness.
    • ll est extraordinaire qu'on puisse mettre tant de mystère dans tant d'éclat.
    • Quote of Stéphane Mallarmé, after seeing an exhibition of Gauguin's work in November 1893; cited by Gauguin at the heading of chapter I of Noa Noa (1893) and in a letter to André Fontainas (March 1899); also quoted in Charles Morice, Paul Gauguin (H. Floury, 1920; digitized by the University of Michigan, 2007), p. 220.
  • What is he, then? He is Gauguin, the savage who hates the burden of our civilization, a sort of Titan who, jealous of the creator, makes his own little world in his spare time, a child who takes toys apart in order to build others from the pieces, one who denies and defies, who prefers to see the sky red rather than blue like the rest of us.
  • I have never wanted and never will accept the lack of modeling or gradation: it's an absurdity. Gauguin was not a painter; he only made Chinese pictures.
    • Jamais je n'ai voulu et je n'accepterai le manque de modelé ou de graduation. C'est un non-sens. Gauguin n'était pas un peintre, il n'a fait que des images chinoises.
    • Paul Cézanne, quoted in Émile Bernard, Souvenirs sur Paul Cézanne (Société des trente, 1912; digitized by University of Michigan Press, 2007), p. 35.
  • I advised him [Gauguin] to go to New Orleans [where Degas stayed for a few months and painted there], but he decided it was too civilized. He had to have people around him with flowers on their heads and rings in their noses before he could feel at home.
  • Paul Gauguin, then [March 1885] still a Parisian stockbroker, had entered art as a collector of impressionist paintings and thus came in contact with Camille Pissarro. When Gauguin began to paint, it was Pissarro who got his works admitted to the exhibitions of the impressionist group. During his stay at Osny in 1883 [with old Pissarro] Gauguin painted the entrance to the village at Pissarro's side.
    • Quote of John Rewald in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 25
  • Gauguin's work is symbolic, and he himself is a myth. He rejected the values of bourgeois society and of a machine civilization. His gesture had its sordid side, but retrospectively it seems to have been appropriate, coming at a time when the world was preparing for annihilating wars. It was not a useful example: we cannot all go and live on South Sea islands, and, as I have said before in this connection, modern man carries his civilization like a pack on his back, and cannot cast if off. But he can nevertheless protest against the burden, and state the real values of life.
    So Gauguin did, in paintings that are symbols of eternal truths, images of great beauty and serenity.
    • Quote of Herbert Read, 'Gauguin: Return to Symbolism,' Art News Annual, XXV (1956).
  • The popular fancy that Gauguin 'discovered himself' as a painter in Tahiti is quite wrong. All the components of his work — the flat patterns of colour, the wreathing outlines, the desire to make symbolic statements about fate and emotion, the interest in 'primitive' art, and the thought that color could function as a language - were assembled in France before 1891.
  • One may wonder if any painter in the last century put more meaning into his sense of color than Gauguin.
    • Quote of Robert Hughes, 'Paul Gauguin,' in Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists (Viking/Penguin, 1991, ISBN 0-394-58026-5), p. 152.


External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Commons
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: