Paul Gauguin: A Life

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Simon & Schuster, 1995 - Painters - 600 pages
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This is a new view of Gauguin, revealing his origins in Peru in a family of anarchists and revolutionaries and examining his life with his youth placed in context. The book is set against the panoramic background of an era of rapid change, from the rise and fall of Napoleon III to the opening years of our century. At the same time, this superlative biography offers an intimate portrait of the age of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, an age brought vividly to life through a vibrant cast of characters - Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, van Gogh, Mucha, Debussy, Mallarme, and Strindberg. Above all, it describes a life of unexpected twists and turns, moving from Gauguin's luxurious childhood in Peru, through his wartime adventures as a sailor, to his years as a financial speculator in Paris, before he plunged into art and traveled across the globe, finishing his days on a remote island in the vast emptiness of the Pacific Ocean. At the end Paul Gauguin became a drug addict and died of syphilis only days before he was to be thrown into prison, yet his art lives after him. How it should be judged in the light of its creator's extraordinary life is the challenge offered to readers of this comprehensive biography.

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Paul Gauguin: a life

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A romantic artist, abandoning everything to seek inspiration in an unspoiled, exotic land; a drug-addicted pedophile escaping jail by dying, at 54, of syphilis; an adventurer, speculator, and ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Sweetman is a biographer, art historian, and poet. He lives in London and France.

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