Friday, March 5, 2010

The Friday Evening Nudes - Paul Gaugin's Tahinian Nudes

 As close as I'll get to a tropical vacation!


  1. Hello, I discoverd your wonderful site a little time ago because of our common favourite movies. But, today I am writing to ask for your support. I live in Australia and have been a member of the Association for Research on Mothering, York University, Toronto for some years and am now the President of the Australian chapter. The wonderful association (as you can see by a google search on the name) is threatened with closure - which we are trying to prevent. I am writing to ask that you have a look at the site and make your own mind up - but if you like what's there would you please let others know and do what you can by way of support. Thanking you, and yours in the spirit, Joannie

  2. OK - I know these are nudes, but they drive me crazy in a way that has nothing to do with their content. That's what Guaguin does to me. I was privileged, recently, to see a half dozen Gauguin paintings, several from Tahiti, all on one wall of a gallery in Chicago (the Art Center). Only the Toulouse Lautrecs and the Van Goghs there had a more powerful affect on me. (Two of the Toulouse Lautrecs moved me more than anything I've seen in a museum - period.)

    It's Gauguin's color choices and HOW HE DIVIDES UP THE PAGE. There is something of the time and the postmodern artists of France that created this unique compositional sense, this shared feeling of shape and movement.* Felix Vallotton did it. Emile Bernard did it. Matisse did it (I looked at a dozen black and white Matisse drawings/lithographs in a gallery yesterday - most of them nudes - how wonderful). Van Gohgh was strongly influenced by it (but he is his own man through and through). Toulouse Lautrec had Gauguin beaten on this score, but few others of his contemporaries did, in my view. Gauguin's Brittany paintings exhibit this also.

    And Gauguin's COLORS are so uniquely his own. Who would think that a color could be owned by one artist?! But that pink of his is so completely his own that I can sometimes ID a tiny SNIP of one of his paintings just by the use of that particular pink. And as lovely as the color is on the screen or in some good reproductions, it is unbelievable in person. I want to eat it. I want to wrap it around myself like a cloud of nirvana. And I don't actually like pink much, normally - I own almost nothing pink. The pink I'm talking about isn't so much in these particular pieces you've gathered, but I can't see ANY Gauguin without looking and wishing for some, like driving by a Krispy Kreme and looking to see if the "Hot Donuts" light is on.

    So I don't know if, to Guaguin, the content was all important, or important at all, or if he was after something more abstract or spiritual, that the figures and nudes were simply part of, but his pieces, for me, are pure art. More than any abstract painter, Gauguin's pieces are about form, color, composition, balance, movement, rhythm.

    But Toulouse Lautrec has him beat... I don't know if you could do a nude series from Toulouse Lautrec, though... Most of his work was in public places, and most of his figures, I think, are clothed (mostly).

    But to get back on subject... (grin)

    The nudes are uniquely Guaguin's, as well. I feel a sense of their strength and youth and fresh sea air vitality that is also impossible to imitate. They are earthy, and floral; sweet and strong; sexy and innocent in a way that may have been lost in Tahiti since that time - or it may have been the particular vision and insight of Gauguin's.

    Wonderful set. Some I hadn't seen before.

    * Susan of Phantsythat exhibits the fin de siecle compositional sense, as well. I've compared her black and white work, in particular, to Vallotton's.

  3. These are all lovely. I'm particularly fond of the last two. Wonderful colors.

  4. Excellent choices; I enjoyed Steve's comments too.

  5. the colors are amazing, especially that coral/salmon shade that I have never before seen look so warm yet vibrant

    thanks lady!

  6. Joannie: I checked out the site for your organization and it looks very worthwhile and interesting. However, having no first-hand experience with any of the benefits it provides, I don't think I am a very good advocate. I can't really write a persuasive letter because I'm not familiar with the organization beyond a perusal of the website. I'm afraid I'm not really sure how I could help. I would encourage you to mobilize a massive effort with the other chapters around the world to put pressure on the university. You are the ones who feel passionately about the cause and therefore will be the most effective.

    Steve: I know what you mean about how Gaugin, Vallotton, Matisse and Bernard used the canvas. Perhaps that is a reason I love those artists so much? I'm not sure but they are among my favorites.

    Lautrec is amazing and I've long thought so. Yes, I've seen some of the oils in person and also some of the prints for posters of that time. I just attended an exhibtion at the MFA Boston called Cafe and Cabaret, which included several posters and prints by Lautrec and Steinlein among others. I almost did a post on it, using my own photographs but the light wasn't very good and I put it on hold due to the photo quality. I may just put together a post on it, using web images. A Lautrec Artist of the Week has been on my mind for months now.

    Thanks for the great comments. I love that unique pink also. :-)

  7. Thanks also to Bobbie, Cloudia, Lady Kenju and Dianne for stopping in!

    Love you all!

  8. is it appropriate for me to think that gaugin was a "t & a" kind of guy? :) lovely choices as always my friend :)

  9. I like Gaugin's landscapes more than his images of people. Perhaps it's because he treats his figures more as landscapes than as real humans you might actually get to know. That may just be why he left Paris for Tahiti - in order to be with people who wouldn't be a constant annoyance. I like listening to songs sung in languages I don't understand for the same reason. As landscapes, his characters are wonderful and the colors amazing.

    Lautrec specialized in painting people. It was his extraordinary gift as well as his ultimate misfortune. Monmartre provided some amazing character studies and I'd love to see your choices for a slice of his work.

    Please tell Steve I'm thunderstruck.

  10. Gaugin's paintings of people sure are a lot more interesting than his paintings of fruit. I always wondered why he bothered with the latter.

  11. Betmo: sure looks like it! ;-) muuuuuuuuuuuah!

    Susan: that is a brilliant point about the people in Gaugin's paintings. They have a wooden quality, just like the trees! :-) I guess what I go for is form and color in his work. I find the women interesting because they're so exotic and doing exotic things like laying around and eating fruit! Also, the patterns of their clothes (such as they are!) and the sensuousness of the skin tones.

    Ha! Steve knows a brilliant artist when he sees one! I would take that comment to heart, Susan. He's an amazing painter as well as critic! You deserve that compliment!

    Libhom: but don't you just want to eat that fruit?!!? :-)


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