French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France in 1848. During his very early years, the family moved to Peru. The culture and colors there would later influence his art. He served in the French Merchant Marines and the French Navy for his military service. After his tour of duty and became a highly successful Parisian stockbroker.
In 1879, Paul Gauguin met Camille Pissarro and became a pupil and patron. Pissarro later invited him to exhibit with the Impressionists. It was during that period he began painting full time. He had become close friends with the impressionist and also found inspiration that would help shape his artistic expression through Paul Cézanne, Van Gogh and Émile Bernard . During the 1880’s Gauguin’s work began to shift away from traditional European Impressionism and became more mystical and symbolic.
Paul Gauguin made his first trip to Tahiti in 1891, after a failed exhibition left him longing for a more exotic location and inspiration for subjects. He decided to move there permanently in 1895. But even in such a paradise the Westernization and colonial corruption of Tahiti left Gauguin disenchanted and in 1901 he moved to the Marquesan island of Hiva Oa. He was in search of a lost paradise. He died there in 1903. His work and style had become an inspiration for a new generation of artists in Paris.
Paul Gauguin’s work had been very influential to artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse during the late 19th century French avant-garde movement and well into the 20th century following his death. His bold use of non-naturalistic color, formal distortion and the figures within his primitive works was important to the Symbolist art movement and to the birth of modern art.