The Story Behind Gauguin’s Biographic Noa Noa

Paul Gauguin is one of my all time favourite painters.


51R4bkIkHULOn the 8th of May 1903, the iconic French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin died in Atuona, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. In 1891, Gauguin sailed to French Polynesia allegedly to escape European civilization and “everything that is artificial and conventional”. As a record of his travels, he ended up writing a book titled Noa Noa describing his experiences in Tahiti. In past decades, more and more allegations by modern critics point to the fact that the contents of the book were fantasized. (Cotter, Holland. “The Self-Invented Artist”. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2010.)  

It turns out that Gauguin’s move to the islands was a bit of a last resort in the artist’s life. It came as the result of very bad fortune in his working and personal life. By 1890, his long-suffering wife Matte had thrown him out and several dealers dropped him. He owed many people money and…

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7 thoughts on “The Story Behind Gauguin’s Biographic Noa Noa

  1. ShimonZ

    Like yourself, Gauguin has provided me with many hours of enjoyment. His images reflect a very basic appreciation of color and form, the beauty of women… and the beauty of the human being. The aesthetics are simply pleasurable to the eye of the beholder. So what is the point in this ‘brave’ attack on the artist, a hundred years after his death. What are we to gain from an examination of his financial success or failure? And if indeed, he did beat his wife, haven’t we passed the limits of the statute of limitations? Not to speak of the fact that if he beat his wife, he was doing her a service by removing himself to far away Tahiti. I found the article obnoxious and a prime example of self righteousness at the expense of others. I say, let those who wish to explode myths concentrate on the myths that are beguiling the present generation, and stop picking on artists who left this world a century ago.

    1. coolperson1

      If people seek fame then they expose themselves to scrutiny.Here some famous men have just been jailed for sex with young girls.More people are intrigued by hearing the life stories than they are by the Art.we humans are always interested in other people.At what point do you think an artist can be criticised?When he kills his wife?
      When he rapes children?When he tortures animals?
      If you are an artist his art may come first but many of us are not that keen on his art or indeed any art as it’s a middle class interest..But everyone likes a story.

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I don’t think Gauguin was necessarily seeking fame…I think it was more a case of he simply had to paint. That’s my own personal opinion.
        Also as an artist and a woman who has worked for women’s rights since the early sixties, I am completely against any form of sexual abuse, and I certainly don’t see art as something that only middle class (whatever the heck that is) people can enjoy. Again, I have spent the last 42 years of my career encouraging and working with people of all nationalities, ages and social economical circumstances.
        Gauguin has been dead for a long time, and I believe that the time has come to simply judge him for his work and his place in art history. Thank you so much for your contribution. Janet.

  2. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Hi Shimon….I totally agree with you….I constantly hear people go on and on about Gauguin’s personal life….when he should be judged for his work as an artist. He went against the grain so that he could pursue his life as an artist, and I for one, say thank God he did.

  3. coolperson1

    It is very interesting that in some studies in the USA they found people’s view of art changed according to who they believed had done it.Some works of hitler were thought to be very good when the paintings were shown anonymously.After the people were told the names of the artists their judgment of his work went down… and with John Lennon it was the other way round.That is interesting.
    As a general principle I would tend to agree with your views but theen again many people l ove to know how other people live and how they struggled through life.If they are a genius,all the better…
    I would not display works by certain people in my home if I believed they were evil people.Gauguin ws just a weak human being like us all…though wife battering does not make me sympathetic to a man.Women suffer too much even now.
    If disapproval had been shown earlier in history so much the better.


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