Island Muses – Gauguin’s Tahitian Dreams

The spring is slow in coming here in New York. Not warm enough yet for my taste. Rainy, cloudy, even a tad dreary. So to lift my seasonal doldrums, I turn to the one and only Paul Gauguin – a guy who really knew how to seek out warmer climates.

I love this Post-Impressionist artist. I have for a long time. I’m not sure if I’m correct, but I’ve always sensed a bit of underratedness surrounding Gauguin’s reputation. (Is underratedness a word? Hmm . . not according to my spellcheck) In the trajectory of his life, we see the force of inspiration played out perfectly. Gauguin was living the life of a regular family man; married with five children, employed as a stockbroker. He had a love of art since childhood which could not be suppressed even into his adulthood. Frustrated and unfulfilled by his middle-class lifestyle, Gauguin abandoned his wife and children to pursue art, his true calling. Now this was not the most honorable choice and I don’t mean to defend a grown man’s decision to desert his family. It’s unfortunate, really. But I suppose when one feels he is living an unbearably discontented life, and a searing passion dwells inside them that’s just aching to come out, painful choices are made.

In the 1890s, after a time spent painting in Paris, Gauguin’s itinerant nature led him to French Polynesia, to the island of Tahiti. There, he found his paradise. In a complete rejection of Western European tastes, values, and conventions, Gauguin embraced the primitive purity of the island existence. He was inspired by the colors, sounds, and native peoples of these islands – especially the women. And who can blame him? They are earthy and arresting. Immersed in this exotic world, Gauguin produced some of the most bold, intense, uncompromising works of art we’ve seen. These are not subtle, nuanced paintings, but potent creations, fueled by the power and vivid beauty of his surroundings.

I am a color person. I respond to it. In this Gauguin piece, Two Tahitian Women, I perceive the sun-kissed skin and warm glow of these alluring women, their bond with nature and sea, flora and fauna. I’m guessing Gauguin always had a lot of burnt sienna squeezed onto his palette.

Ok, guys – my friends in the blogosphere – all you fellow creatives who drop by this site; artists, writers, photographers, art models, illustrators. What do you say we cancel all scheduled work for the next six months or so, get on a plane and fly off to Tahiti? In Gauguin’s portrayal, it looks so seductive. Ripe fruit, blue waters, green plants, tropical flowers, seahsells and sand. Are you with me? This restless muse will lead the way . . . 😉

3 thoughts on “Island Muses – Gauguin’s Tahitian Dreams

  1. J Alan says:

    Count me in……..I would love to spend the 6 months in pursuit of photography 🙂
    but then again….it’s to escape from work…….but….it would be different environment for work….but still work…..but is it work if you love your work?

    btw, didn’t Gauguin hang around with Van Vogh? and wasn’t he the reason Van Gogh cut off his year because they had a fight?

    Maybe it was another artist………

    Beautiful painting..

  2. artmodel says:


    The friendship between Gauguin and Van Gogh was mostly a 9 week stay in Arles, in the south of France. It was a volatile, highly combustible relationship, and is depicted often in bio-pic movies about Van Gogh’s life, such as Lust for Life in which Kirk Douglas played Van Gogh and Anthony Quinn played Gauguin. (I think Quinn won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance).

    As far as Van Gogh maiming his ear, he was motviated by his obssession for a woman- a prostitute, I believe. Drastic and crazy thing to do, obviously, but Van Gogh was not the most mentally stable guy who ever lived. His life is quite sad, really.

    Glad you like the Gauguin painting. I LOVE it. If I could paint (which I can’t), I’d want to paint like that.

    You ask a great question, Alan. Is it work if you love it? I’m in the same position as you in that I truly love my work. I say yes, it’s still work. It pays my bills and I’m obligated to carry out my modeling duties when I’m booked to pose. But 95% of the time I WANT to be there anyway. So I say it’s still work, and if a person loves it too, then they are just really, really lucky to make a living at their passion.

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. The thesaurus hasn’t helped. Work brings up the usual: servitude, drudge, grindstone. Nothing at all positive.

    Considering art modeling your mission, calling, pursuit, quest is closer to the truth. But it isn’t work as commonly defined.

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