GAUGUIN, Paul
(b. 1848, Paris, d. 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia)

Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers

1888
Oil on canvas, 73 x 91 cm
Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam

In October 1888, Gauguin went to Arles on Vincent van Gogh's invitation, to try and build up an artists' community which van Gogh had long dreamed to create. Gauguin arrived on October 20. By December 25, all hopes had vanished, all plans were annihilated. There was the often told tragedy, van Gogh's abortive murderous attempt, when he slashed his own ear. Gauguin fled without ever seeing again his tempestuous friend, who was always to feel bitter about this.

Gauguin painted the unflattering portrait of van Gogh during his stay at Arles. In this painting Gauguin has once again adopted the high viewpoint he had used in Still-Life with Three Puppies, which allows him to flatten the subject and treat it with the cloisonné style he had formulated in Brittany with Bernard. The subject, in particular the background, is treated as a configuration of flat colours, each compartmentalized and simplified, as in the enamel work from which. the style derived its name.




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