Edgar Degas Paul Gauguin Thesis

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Gauguin and Degas

Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas shared many similarities as artists. Both were Impressionists, though Degas began as a classical artist and moved on to become one of the founders of the Impressionist movement, while Gauguin began as an Impressionist and moved on to become well-known as a Synthesist, Cloissonist, and Primitive artist. Degas saw commercial success in his lifetime, while Gauguin was increasingly dissatisfied with life in Europe and eventually went to live in the tropics. However, both artists worked in multiple mediums, and incorporated different styles in their mediums in different manners. As a result, both artists can provide a good example of how medium can influence an artist's style.

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, but was reared around the globe. He spent parts of his childhood in Lima, Peru, and Orleans, France. Upon reaching adulthood, he became a member of the merchant marine and later the navy, so that travel was a substantial part of his adult life, and, at one time settled in Copenhagen, Denmark. This travel became a critical part of Gauguin's success as an artist, as he is probably best known for the paintings he created depicting life in Tahiti and Polynesia. These paintings are characterized by a bold use of color. In fact, his paintings are believed to have led to the Synthesist style of modern art and primitivism. Gauguin was also known for his use of wood as a medium. He worked in wood engravings and in woodcuts as art forms. These forms cannot be separated from Gauguin's experience in Polynesia and Tahiti, as they reflected folk art forms being used in those areas.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Thesis on Edgar Degas Paul Gauguin Assignment

Gauguin's interest in art began in his childhood, and he spent some of his youth working with other important artists such as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cezanne. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that much of Gauguin's early work is very representative of the Impressionist movement. For example, the work Garden in Vaugirard, a painting depicting Gauguin's family in a garden, has all of the hallmarks of traditional Impressionist work. In it, Gauguin uses short brush strokes, subtle color variations, and an absence of sharp lines or delineations to create a picture whose landscape background seems realistic, but whose people seem abstract and fuzzy.

While one can certainly see the impressionist influence in Gauguin's work, his travels probably influenced his work more than his early exposure to impressionist masters. While traveling to the islands, Gauguin interacted with immigrant Indians, and adopted Indian style and symbolism for much of his art work. In fact, as he grew older, Gauguin began to be bored by impressionism, a fact that is reflected in his later work. He found himself interested in African and Asian art, and began to incorporate African and Asian elements into his own work. One can see the influence that Japanese art had on Gauguin when viewing his later works. Cloisonnism, a style that derived its name from Emile Bernard's cloissone enameling technique, was characterized by bold and flat colors separated by dark contours. Gauguin's most well-recognized Cloisonnist work was the Yellow Christ. In the Yellow Christ, Gauguin depicts a yellow Christ on the cross against a yellow background the same color as Christ. The colors used in the Christ are not realistic; he is a bright, unnatural yellow. However, the Christ seems both more vibrant and more alive than the figures Gauguin depicted in his earlier Impressionist works, despite the fact that it is so stylized

Eventually, Gauguin's work moved beyond Cloisonnism and into Synthesism. Synthesism is characterized by art in which color and form have an equal role. Gauguin's woodcuts and wood sculptures are wonderful examples of Synthesism. First, they moved away from many of the details that had marked the evolution of art from the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance. His woodcuts lost perspective, so that the objects, animals, and people featured in them seemed flat and primitive. They were highly reminiscent of folk art scenes and techniques, which concentrated more on representation than on form. For Gauguin, Synthesism was a step on the way towards Primitivism. Primitivism is more than an art form, though, especially for Gauguin, it was characterized by a return to basics in art and a movement away from some of the subtle techniques that had characterized painting since the Renaissance. Instead of merely an artistic technique, Primitivism referred to a celebration of so-called primitive people and primitive ways of life. Gauguin was certainly seeking this type of lifestyle when, destitute, he sailed for the tropics. Gauguin's Tahitian and Polynesian paintings and sculptures present an exotic view of Polynesians, especially Polynesian women. They are generally characterized by nude or partially-nude women, reinforcing the primitive image of the people in the paintings. For example, his sculpture Maurka, depicts a cross-legged woman sitting in a doorway of some sort, carved into her tree. Her features are less refined than those one would encounter in classical sculptures, but also accurately representative of native features than many works by other artists. In fact, Maurka demonstrates an interesting facet of both Synthesism and Primitive art, which is that they are both very well-suited for depicting so-called primitive people.

Like Gauguin, Degas was born in Paris, and arrived in time to help create the Impressionist movement. Degas' work, regardless of the medium, is highly regarded for its accurate depictions of form and movement. After a formal artistic education as the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Degas began his artistic career as a history painter. As a history painter, he actually created a tremendous number of copies of Renaissance and classical art. He also painted history paintings depicting actual events. His career as an artist may have remained solidly historically if it had not been for a visit to a friend in Normandy, where Degas began to study horses, which led to a lifelong fascination with movement and even athleticism. This was a significant change, because it marked a movement in Degas' art away from historical representations and into modern representations, especially of movement. One of the first paintings to demonstrate Degas' transition from historic painting to Impressionism was Portrait of Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet "La Source," a work in which Degas combines the narrative content of history painting with representations of modern life. Moreover, he uses the subject of the ballet, which was to become one of his trademarks. He also subtly blends colors and uses shadow in a manner that he largely abandons in later works.

Degas may have been one of the first artists to use photography as an art form. He photographed his friends, manipulating light sources for the photos to reveal shadow and depth that would not have been available under normal lighting conditions. In addition to using photographs as an artistic medium, Degas used them as a reference. He took pictures of dancers and nudes, using them as references in some of his later artworks. Though Degas did not approach photography as an art form in the same way it is used today, he did work with light and shadow and how photography could manipulate those elements. This helped differentiate Degas from the other Impressionists, many of whom preferred outdoor settings and natural, un-manipulated light sources.

In fact, though Degas is oftentimes referred to as an Impressionist, and certainly played a major role in the development of the Impressionist school, it is important to recognize some significant differences between Degas and other Impressionist artists. First, Degas never used flecks in his painting, nor did he paint landscapes or other open-air paintings. Degas rejected the spontaneity that became a trademark of Impressionist art. Instead, he carefully planned his works, and they captured real life and movement because of this careful planning, rather than in -- spite of it. This separated Degas from the Impressionist movement, even though he eventually came to be recognized as a major Impressionist artist.

One of the interesting elements of Degas artwork is his fascination with depicting people engaged in work. For example, he showed racehorses and jockeys in a modern context, engaged in their everyday work. He painted dancers, but it is interesting to note that the dancers in his paintings were frequently in rehearsals or backstage, showing an awareness of an art form as work. Moreover, like Gauguin, Degas' technique changed with his subject matter. He began to use more vivid colors and bold brushstrokes. He became known for the movement of his paintings.

In addition to working in oil paints, Degas began working in pastels. Pastels allowed Degas to expand in two different areas that interested him. First, pastels allowed him to create strong lines, which had always been a feature of his works. In addition, pastels permitted him to use a wide range of colors, since pastels could evoke the same range of colors found in oils without the muddy appearance that layered oil paintings sometimes had. What is even more interesting is that Degas combined his use of pastels with… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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