Paul Gauguin

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An original Paul Gauguin Etching at Pickens Museum.(1894) Original zinc plate etching printed in black ink on Ingres d’Arches laid paper. Inscribed “Chez Seguin à St. Julien” in the plae upper left. A dark and richly printed impression of Kornfeld’s third and final state. Printed after the addition of the cross to the lower right corner of the cloth on the table lower right, from an edition of unknown size issued circa 1963 (according to Kornfeld, Guérin does not record this edition), apart from the edition of 100 of the first state printed in dark green, published by Julius Meier Graefe for the album Germinal in 1894, and apart from the editionof 10 of the second state published by Jacqueline Delâtre circa 1950.
When are you Getting Married (1892) by Paul Gauguin.

French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin was an important figure in the Symbolist art movement of the early 1900s. His use of bold colors, exaggerated body proportions and stark contrasts in his paintings set him apart from his contemporaries, helping to pave the way for the Primitivism art movement. Gauguin often sought exotic environments and spent time living and painting in Tahiti.

The dark side to Paul Gauguin's Polynesian fantasy

There was a dark side to Paul Gauguin's Polynesian fantasy, but his work is as seductive as ever.

How many men have dreamed of emulating Paul Gauguin? In the century since the French painter's death, the story of a stockbroker who abandoned the Bourse, his hectoring, spendthrift wife and five children for a Polynesian paradise has been sanitised of its more unpalatable elements.

All but forgotten are Gauguin's brawling, drinking, whoring, and penchant for bedding 13-year-olds, whom he impregnated and infected with syphilis while railing against the missionaries he accused of perverting the culture of Oceania.

Gauguin inherited a provocative streak from a revolutionary grandmother, and named his last abode - located between Protestant and Catholic missions in the Marquesas - the House of Orgasm. Seven months before his death at the age of 54, he wrote to a friend: "You've known for a long time what I wanted to establish: the right to dare everything."

Jacques Brel and Marlon Brando followed in Gauguin's footsteps. Like the French painter, they believed the description that Gauguin copied from a book in 1889: "Under a winterless sky, in a land of marvellous fecundity, the Tahitian has only to raise his hand to gather food; thus he never works . . . Tahitians . . . know only the sweetness of life. For them, life is singing and loving."

Gauguin's marriage to a masculine Danish woman, Mette Gad, was all but over by the mid 1880s when Mette took the children to Copenhagen. Though deeply attached to his daughter, Aline, Gauguin fled the contempt of his in-laws, wandering off to Martinique and Brittany to paint.

In the autumn of 1888, Gauguin finally gave in to Vincent Van Gogh's insistence that he join him in Arles. The unstable Van Gogh hero-worshipped Gauguin and dreamed of establishing a "Studio of the South" with him in the tropics.

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Gauguin went to Arles only because he was bankrupt. Van Gogh's brother, the art dealer, Theo, offered a stipend if he would live in Vincent's house. But Gauguin's indifference towards Van Gogh transformed the Dutchman's adoration into fury.

Three days before Christmas, Van Gogh hurled an absinthe glass at Gauguin in a café. Gauguin suggested it would be better if he left. Fifteen years later, Gauguin recorded how he went for a walk in the public gardens: "I heard behind me a well-known step. Short, quick, irregular. I turned about the instant that Vincent rushed towards me, an open razor in his hand. My look at that moment must have had great power in it, for he stopped and, lowering his head, set off running towards home."

The following morning, Gauguin learned that Van Gogh had sliced off his left ear and delivered it to the local brothel with instructions that it be given to a shy young prostitute named Rachel. Gauguin left Arles immediately, telling a policeman: "If he asks for me, tell him I left for Paris; the sight of me might prove fatal to him."

In 1891, the French minister of fine arts agreed to grant Gauguin an official but unpaid mission to study the customs of Polynesia. His first Tahitian painting, Ia orana Maria (Hail Mary), shows a woman in a red pareo holding an infant on her shoulder. Were it not for the haloes and blue-and-yellow-winged angel in the background, the painting would be a scene from daily life.

The Paris Musée du Luxembourg rejected Gauguin's offer of Ia orana Maria in 1893. Today, the masterpiece is on loan from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and hangs in the entrance of the Grand Palais exhibition. No matter how many times one has seen it, the colours are still astounding. As the poet Stéphane Mallarmé wrote: "It is extraordinary that one can put so much mystery in so much brightness."

In Tahiti in 1891, Gauguin took his first child "bride", a 13-year-old named Teha'amana, also called Tehura. She was his favourite model during his initial two-year stay. Penniless and ill, Gauguin returned to Paris two years later, where he lived with another 13-year-old, "Annah la Javanaise", from Malaysia.

Gauguin moved back to Tahiti in 1895, and "married" Pahura, aged 14. Their infant daughter died in 1897, the same year, ironically, that Gauguin's beloved Aline died in Denmark.

In 1901, Gauguin moved to the Marquesas in the belief that "life is very easy and cheap there". His last "wife" was 14-year-old Vaeoho Marie-Rose, who rejected him after bearing their daughter. Gauguin had persuaded her father, a local chieftain, to take the girl out of convent school so she could become his vahine.

Gauguin's paintings of a pregnant Teha'amana, wearing a Western "mission dress" and holding a mango, or seated against a backdrop representing her Polynesian ancestry, are among his finest.

In The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch, Gauguin painted his child mistress lying naked on a bed, her eyes wide open, while a tupapau (ghost) looks on. The painting exudes primeval fear and sensuality. When it was shown in Sweden in 1898, the director of the Academy of Arts deemed the canvas indecent and had it removed from the exhibition. But Gauguin liked Spirit of the Dead so much that he used it as a backdrop to his own self-portrait. The painter's South American lineage can be seen in his features; his great-grandfather was the brother of the last Spanish viceroy of Peru, and Gauguin spent six years of his childhood in Lima. He boasted that he had Inca blood.

"It's reflected in everything I do," he wrote. "It's the basis of my personality. I try to confront rotten civilisation with something more natural, based on savagery."

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In 1897, after suffering a heart attack, Gauguin began working on the huge canvas he considered his artistic testament.

"I wanted, before I died, to paint a big picture I had in mind, and I have worked feverishly night and day all month," he wrote. "It was all dashed off, directly with the top of a brush, on a piece of sacking full of knots and rough bits."

The result, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, is a right-to-left visual narrative, in which a newborn infant progresses to old age. Gauguin often painted from prints and photographs, and is believed to have mimicked Botticelli for the composition and Rembrandt for the figure plucking a piece of fruit in the middle. The painting, which belongs to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, had not been seen in France for 54 years and is the centrepiece of the Grand Palais exhibition.

Yet despite Gauguin's - and present-day art critics' - assertions that Where Do We Come From? was his best work, there is something disturbing about the dark, moody painting. Just as we prefer the myth of the liberated stockbroker attaining artistic fulfilment to the reality of the drunken, syphilitic paedophile, Gauguin's prettier paintings are more pleasing.

The most beautiful must be the Metropolitan's Two Tahitians, a gentle, sensual image of two bare-breasted young women offering fruit and flowers. This is the South Pacific of our fantasies, not the dying culture that Gauguin discovered when he arrived in Papeete.

About Pickens Museum

Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. Seeking to attain his tribe's highest war honor by touching his enemy. This action among indigenous peoples is called "Counting Coup".
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. “Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp” is a bronze created by Osage Artist John Free. The bronze, eight feet high and twelve feet long) was enlarged to 1-1/4 life size through the efforts of John Free of the Bronze Horse foundry in Pawhuska and Hugh Pickens. Pictured (L-R): Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. “Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman” is a mural painted by fine artist Daniel Pickens. Daniel was born in Lima, Peru in 1974 and is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. This mural is at our Ponca City location.
“"War Club" by Native Artist Yatika Starr Fields was recently acquired from Garth Greenam Gallery to Pickens Museum. Personal and social struggle have long been integral to the artist’s practice. After joining the Water Protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, Fields increasingly centered the Indigenous history of hope and struggle in his work, particularly in his studio practice. In his 2017 series, Tent Metaphor Standing Rock, Field recovered tents after the infamous February 22, 2017 police raid on the protesters. The artist recombined the vivid tenting material—the mainstay of middle-class camping holidays that has become an icon of homelessness and protest movements—into traditional Indigenous patterns, anti-pipeline slogans, and into dynamic, compelling abstract compositions. As in his graffiti works, Fields blurs the line between abstraction and representation, creating stylistic compositions out of recognizable elements, and setting them against dynamic, swirling fields of color and twisting forms. The works blur the boundaries between political polemic and abstraction, between distress, resistance and hope.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. Our mural "The Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman" is located in City Central at our Ponca City location.
Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry and Art. Pickens Museum displays art works at NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College) This art is at our Tonkawa location
Native American Artist Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum.
The World's Largest Naja. Future location of Pickens Museum on Route 60 and "U" Street West of Ponca City
Architectural Renderings of Pickens Museum.
Aerial View from East of Future location of Pickens Museum along Route 60 at "U" Street West of Ponca City
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
Drum player by Allan Houser. This stone carving is part of the collection at Pickens Museum.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp.
Native American Jewelry Artist Tonya Rafael with a silver frame she created to honor my wife Sr. S.J. Pickens. My wife and Tonya worked together over the years creating new jewelry art pieces. My wife had an eye for color and would often design a spectacular piece and ask Tonya to execute it for her. A skilled silversmith, Tonya would sometimes stay in our guest house, set up a workshop, and work for days at a time on a Squash Blossom, Bolo, or Bracelet my wife commissioned. The piece is a silver picture frame that Tonya cut out of thick silver plate. Around the edge of the picture frame are 95 small turquoise stones. In the top is a large spiny oyster stone in the shape of a heart. The frame contains a photo that Tonya took of my wife a few years ago. Dr. Pickens is wearing one of her favorite outfits and if you look closely you can see a special squash blossom and necklace that Tonya created for my wife. In the bottom of the frame is an inscription.
Native American Artist Jolene Bird. Jolene Bird is an accomplished artist who learned her craft from her grandfather over 20 years ago. Jolene makes her jewelry in the tradition of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. This is a Fender Stratocaster guitar onto which Jolene has attached pieces of Kingman and Sonoran Turquoise highlighted with Jet. The stars are in Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Pipestone, Yellow Serpentine, and Spiny Oyster. The artistry in this piece is simply breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. Consider that this is a three dimensional mosaic, a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle if you will. Jolene told me that each individual piece of turquoise had to be cut, shaped, and ground down to fit perfectly with the other pieces. Each individual piece probably took six to eight hours to produce and there are literally hundreds of pieces covering the guitar.
American Indian by Paul Manship This piece at Pickens Museum is the only known existing copy of this sculpture.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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