* 1848 Paris
† 1903 Atuona
Paul Gauguin was born in Paris on June 7, 1848. At first the family immigrates to Peru for political reasons, to the home of his grandmother, the writer and female rights activist Flora Tristan. They return to France in 1855. Gauguin is a sailor from 1865 to 1871, working as a bank clerk in Paris afterwards. As of 1874 he attends the Académie Colarossi and becomes friends with Camille Pissarro, whom he often visits in his studio, who also influences Gauguin's early work. In 1876 Paul Gauguin premiers with the work "Sous-bois à Viroflay" at the Paris Salon. As of 1880 Paul Gauguin intensively turns to painting and decides to give up his bank employment in 1882.
Gauguin travels to Brittany for the first time in 1886 where he works in Pont-Aven. The rough beauty of the landscape and the native charm of the rural people inspire the artist's style. He disengages himself from Impressionism, creating the motifs from clearly contoured color surfaces, mostly doing without a modelizing interior drawing, thus attaining an intensive coloring. He gets to know the painter Emile Bernard in Pont-Aven, and finds himself impressed and inspired by his cloisonnist style. Gauguin and Bernard become precursors of a circle of artists from which the School of Pont-Aven emerges in 1887/88. This is also where Gauguin and Bernard come up with Synthetism, with which they try to depict reality in a symbolic esthetic. In 1888 Paul Gauguin paints the revolutionary painting "Vision after the Sermon - Jakob's struggle with the Angle".
The first one-man show takes place at Boussod and Valadon in 1888, the same year Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh meet in Arles, however, the artist's companionship soon fails dramatically, because of their different tempers and opinions.
On occasion of the 1889 world exhibition, the Impressionists and the Synthetists show their works together in the Café Volpini. Paul Gauguin is celebrated as the main representative of symbolic art in Paris, however, he does not manage to elate other artists for his idea of setting up a tropical studio on the island of Madagascar. He finances his journey to Tahiti with the proceeds of an auction of his paintings at Drouot. He arrives Tahiti in summer 1891 and works intensively until 1893. An account of this time is the book "Noa Noa" which is released in 1897.
Gauguin returns to France for two years from 1893 to 1895, where he stays in Brittany again. He transforms many of the drawings made on Tahiti to woodcuts. He goes to Tahiti again in 1895, living in Punaia on the Western coast until 1901, afterwards he moves to the island Hiva-Oa, where he lives in "Maison de Jouir", a hut decorated with carvings. Paul Gauguin dies in Atuana on May 18, 1903.