MFA Spotlight
Paul Gauguin: Where Do We Come From? What are We? Where are we Going?

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About This Item

Introducing MFA Spotlight
Each volume in the MFA Spotlight series illuminates a significant work in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, offering a brief and engaging introduction to its creation and history.

George T.M. Shackelford

The life of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) is one of the richest and most mythic in the history of Western art. Abandoning a career in banking, a family and his homeland, in the last decade of the nineteenth century he sailed from France to the South Seas to seek a life “in ecstasy, in peace and for art.” During his years in Tahiti, Gauguin brought forth a wealth of astonishing paintings, culminating in this monumental meditation on what he called the “ever-present riddle” of human existence posed in the work’s title. This compact introduction to Gauguin’s masterpiece explores its relation to European models as well as to the artist’s own companion pieces, emphasizing not only that the painting responded to current French art, but also that its creator always intended it to find its ultimate audience in Paris. It also provides an enlightening entry into the work's formal composition and complex symbolism, drawing on Gauguin's writings to help explore the philosophical and personal struggles that led to the creation of this endlessly mysterious, profoundly beautiful work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George T.M. Shackelford, former Chair, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is Deputy Director of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

Softcover.
5.75" x 8.25".
56 pages and an 8 page gatefold, 23 color illustrations.