Art Inspired: A Walk By the Sea, Paul Gauguin

Continuing with our six weeks of bathing paintings, I had to include one of Gauguin’s signature Tahitian pieces, Bathers, also known as A Walk by the Sea or Tahitian Family. Painted in 1902, just over 100 years later it was listed by Art News as one of The 10 Most Wanted Works of Art in the world. Gauguin’s story is probably the most romanticized in the art world–a Parisian stockbroker who set sail for French Polynesia to be free of “everything that was artificial and conventional” he lived like a savage and created a simpler life for himself that he recorded in his paintings.  In reality Gauguin’s life was anything but glamorous; he was an abusive husband who left his wife of eleven years and their 5 children, and went on to seduce young women in Tahiti, where much has been made of his violent sexual life. A case has been made that Van Gogh cut his ear off for Gauguin, and deduced from Gauguin’s journals that Van Gogh’s love was most likely unrequited because Paul was only attracted to younger and more attractive men–no one knows for sure, but in the end, Gauguin became disillusioned with the colonialism of Tahiti and died of syphilis searching for a lost paradise. His personal life aside, Gauguin’s use of color and lush imagery still makes him one of my favorite painters.

What I love about Gauguin’s art, is that despite being accused of misrepresenting Tahitian culture and painting an idyllic fantasy world, the dreams, mystery and symbolism in his work transcend all criticism. His vivid use of color and lack of classical perspective changed the course of modern art, influenced both Picasso and Matisse, but never came into vogue until shortly after his death.

To me, Gauguin’s exoticized world is echoed in this Mary Katrantzou Babelonia metallic dress. Paired with our tan Leopard Bancroft calf-hair fold-over clutch {a slightly bold pattern mix choice that may not appeal to everyone but I think somehow works} and a pair of earthy deep brown McQ Alexander McQueen heels plus a bright pink Laura Mercier lipstick, it has a sophisticated wild woman feel perfect for the end of summer.

Are you a fan of Gauguin’s work and how do you feel about this outfit?

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