Van Gogh passionately liked and appreciated Gauguin and his art, whereas Gauguin couldn't care less about van Gogh or his work. Gauguin, on the other hand, was self-centered, judgemental, unfaithful, and devoid of empathy. When Gauguin arrived, Van Gogh was overjoyed. They soon became good friends and partners in crime, going together into the night to drink with their mutual friend Paul Goudy. They spent their money freely and lived a high life in Parisian artistic circles... but it wasn't long before their reckless lifestyle took its toll on them both. By the time they returned to Arles in 1889, Van Gogh was mentally unstable and physically ill, while Gauguin was completely recovered from his travels.
Gauguin eventually left for Tahiti again, this time taking only some paintings with him. He never returned to France. In 1893, Van Gogh killed himself in Auvers-sur-Oise. The same year, Gauguin also died in Metairie, near New York City.
Even though they were great artists in their own rights, it's safe to say that Van Gogh helped push Gauguin toward becoming one too. Without Van Gogh's support, Gauguin may not have been able to survive in France when he first arrived there. And without Gauguin, Van Gogh may not have been able to complete so many pieces of work during his lifetime.
Van Gogh's clarity of aim astounded Gauguin. "I admire the guy more than the artwork," he wrote. "His drawings are marvelous—the most modern in the world."
But their friendship was also filled with conflict. They argued about women, religion, and politics - but mostly they fought over money. Gauguin wanted Vincent to join him in Tahiti, but he refused because there were no jobs there. Instead, they sent letters back and forth until Gauguin left for Paris where he could get work as a painter.
After his friend died, Gauguin tried to sell some of Vincent's paintings in France, but without success. He gave up trying to make money out of his own work and instead spent his time drinking and visiting prostitutes. Eventually, he was forced to leave France and move to Europe where the government denied him entry because of his past crimes.
Gauguin started writing poems and painting again. He traveled around Europe for several years and had many friends who were artists. In 1892, he met a young woman named Pauline van Gorsel who helped him find peace and quiet so that he could paint without being disturbed.
Van Gogh and Gauguin formed a close connection during the two years they lived and painted as neighbors in Arles, in the south of France. They were responsible for the town's status as an artistic haven. According to legend, after separating from Gauguin, van Gogh chopped off a portion of his own ear with a straight razor. He then sent it to the painter as a gift, hoping it would encourage further friendship. However, according to other reports, he only pretended to chop off his ear; instead, he burned it in protest against Gauguin's plan to leave for Tahiti.
The story of Vincent van Gogh and his severed ear has been used extensively by artists since his death in 1890. It is one of the most famous art myths and has appeared in many forms of media including paintings, drawings, sculpture, tapestries, and even music albums.
In 1990, a French museum opened its doors to public viewing for the first time in nearly 100 years. This exhibition featured hundreds of pieces that had been removed from the homes of both men just months before their deaths. The ear was among them. The discovery of this artifact caused such interest that the museum had to move into another location. More than 700 people visited the new venue to see the ear.
The myth about van Gogh's ear dates back at least as far as 1955 when Henry Geldzahler wrote about it for the New York Times.
At the time, their topics were also extremely similar, focusing on landscapes and local people. Even after Gauguin left Arles and moved to Paris, his impact on van Gogh was palpable; van Gogh began painting from memory, as Gauguin had done, and his works became more ornate and less precise as a result.
Also like van Gogh, Gauguin spent most of his time in a state of depression that he tried to overcome by drinking heavily and taking drugs. He suffered two episodes of self-induced insanity before going off to live with a native tribe in Tahiti where he cut off all contact with society for almost three years.
Gauguin's work is much more provocative than that of van Gogh who, despite producing many disturbing paintings, never engaged in any direct action to protest against the world system at that time.
However, both men died at a very young age, van Gogh from suicide and Gauguin due to tuberculosis, and they share another common factor: both were immensely talented artists who were not given the opportunity to express themselves fully.
Furthermore, both men were introverts who kept mostly to themselves but who when they did talk liked everyone else better than they did. They spoke poorly of different cultures and religions, particularly Catholicism, and often used foul language.
Gauguin, like Pablo Picasso in the early twentieth century, was inspired and driven by the raw strength and simplicity of those alien civilizations' so-called primitive art. Gauguin is regarded as a Post-Impressionist painter. His work pre-dating that of Cézanne by about ten years brought him fame during his life time but also criticism from some quarters who felt he had sold out by taking up residence in France.
Gaugin's stay in Tahiti was only for three years but it was here that he experienced the beauty and power of the island's people and culture first-hand. He returned to Paris with many pictures which he showed at the First International Exhibition of Modern Art in 1891. The show was a great success and helped establish Gauguin as an important artist.
Gauguin is considered one of the founders of the modern art movement in France. He is known for his self-portraits, which often include portraits of friends or colleagues who can be seen staring back at the viewer behind him.
In addition to paintings, Gauguin also produced ceramics and wood carvings. Today his work is valued by collectors all over the world.
Have a look at some of Gauguin's paintings below.