Gauguin Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going

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Gauguin Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going

-Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
-Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
-1897
-Oil on Canvas, 5 feet by 12 feet
-Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?, is the self-acclaimed masterpiece of Paul Gauguins’ career. It represents the culmination of his ideas and beliefs that he acquired throughout his life as a painter. Many visual characteristics of the painting, such as the color, line, and light are unrealistic in nature, but serve to emphasize the tropical surroundings in which Gauguin loved to paint. Although the organization of the characters in this lush jungle clearing seem random, Gauguin intended this work
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The idol also represents a change in color tones from the rest of the painting. It has been painted in a light blue, similar to the coloring of background elements. According to Gauguin, this figure represents “the beyond,” which is emphasized by its close relationship in color to nature. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Although the use of line and light is not as defined as the color scheme, they still play an important role in the overall organization of the painting. Gauguin uses curvilinear lines throughout this work with no right angles or sharp points. The outlines in the background are fairly blurry and some of the lines blend into one another. In contrast, the characters in the foreground are comprised of precise, sharp lines. Gauguin goes as far as lightly outlining the bodies with a dark line in order to give them a sense of depth. Light also serves to enhance certain aspects of the painting. Gauguin has been careful in his use of light to create some areas of brightness and some of darkness. The central figure glows in the bright light, which shines down on her from above. This light shows the importance of the decision of whether to pick the fruit or not. It is focused so directly on one area and is void in the others.

The organization and relationships of the characters, animals, and background elements in Where do we come from? seem to be fairly unorganized and random, but Gauguin has placed them in this order consciously. The painting is…