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The Seed of the Areoi

The Seed of the Areoi by Paul Gauguin
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Artist: Paul Gauguin    Image Code: V03053

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  • Artist: Paul Gauguin

    Paul Gauguin (June 7, 1848-May 8, 1903) came to art late in life under the influence of the painters Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne. Beginning his career as a stock broker, Gauguin developed a strong interest in art, and following the market crash of 1882, decided to dedicate his life to painting. A champion of the cloisonnist style, Gauguin’s strong, constructive brushstrokes embolden his colorful paintings. After spending the early years of his career in Brittany and Arles with his contemporary, Vincent, van Gogh, Gauguin struck out into the world, travelling to Martinique, Panama, and Tahiti. Over the course of his two trips to Tahiti, he was inspired by what he called the “savage” surroundings, and pioneered the French Symbolist and Primativist movements. His many allegorical paintings and portraits of women evoke the erotic, mysterious aura that Tahiti held for him. Gauguin’s synthesis of Western traditions and “exotic” subject matter paved the way for the Fauvists and Expressionists that followed in his wake. 

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  • Artwork Details

    In 1891, Paul Gauguin took his first trip to French Polynesia and Tahiti. He eventually returned to the island again in 1895, where he lived until his death. Referred to respectively as his first and second Tahitian periods, Gauguin produced some of his most striking work while overseas, as well as in between his travels. Seeking refuge from “the European struggle for money,” Gauguin wanted to live in Tahiti “in ecstasy, calm and art.” Taking the inhabitants and natural surrounds as his inspiration, Gauguin explored the emerging movements of cloisonnism, synthetism, and primitivism through his Tahiti paintings. Many of his canvases from the period are allegorical or quasi-religious, and yet maintain a focus on the Tahitian way of life. Scholars have discussed Gauguin’s time on the island for decades, with topics ranging from the latent colonialism imbued within his paintings to sexual and gender-driven issues (indeed, a few of his Tahiti paintings feature Tehura, Gauguin’s adolescent, native wife).