Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Life of Gauguin

Gauguin: a Biographyis a fascinating book written by the French writer Henri Perruchot in 1961. I bought an old copy of its Bulgarian translation while at the seaside and was enjoying it on the beach. The translator is the famous Bulgarian scholar and intellectual Nicola Georgiev. Learning the details about Gauguin's struggles as an artist before the acknowledgment of the French public is extremely inspiring. The text of the biography is woven by precise chronological events from the painter's life but also many excerpts from his personal letters. Perruchot not only describes well the influences that Gauguin's artistic views went through, but also reveals in a beautiful way the painter's struggles to come up with his own style. The reader of this life account learns about when and where Gauguin made each one of his paintings; at the same time, he is able to understand the slight but quite elaborate differentiations between Gauguin's art and that of his contemporaries. Last but not least, the books provides a clear perspective on the artistic movements in France and abroad.

Now, I feel like I need to have a Gauguin reproduction in my house. Even a small one. I am thinking about The Yellow Christ and the self-portrait with him, or the self-portrait that Gauguin painted together with his friend Bernard to send from Pont-Aven to their other friend Van Gogh who was living at the time in Arles, in the former province of Provence.

A curious note: Emil, Gauguin's first son, and I are born on the same date. Different years though ...

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