Paul Gauguin styled himself and his art as "savage." Although he began his artistic career with the Impressionists in Paris, during the late 1880s he fled farther and farther from urban civilization in search of an edenic paradise where he could create pure, "primitive" art. Yet his self-imposed exile to the South Seas was not so much an escape from Paris as a bid to become the new leader of the Parisian avant-garde. Gauguin cultivated and inhabited a dual image of himself as, on the one hand, a wolfish wild man and on the other, a sensitive martyr for art. His notoriety helped to promote his astonishing work, which freed color from mimetic representation and distorted form for expressive purposes. Gauguin pioneered the Symbolist art movement in France and set the stage for Fauvism and Expressionism.
We’re in the presence of an unspoiled creature with the instincts of a wild beast. With Gauguin, blood and sex have the edge over ambition.
For 2 months I’ve been working on a large sculpture , and I dare believe that it’s the best thing I’ve done up to now ... A monster who looks like me is taking the hand of a naked woman —