Paul René Gauguin was a Norwegian-Danish artist born in Copenhagen to a Danish father and a Norwegian mother. He spent his childhood in Norway and received his first school years in Oslo. As a youth he went to France where he took artium at the Lycée Corneille in Rouen. After a short period as a journalist and proofreader in Dagbladet, he traveled down to Europe where he looked for work without success. In 1932 he settled in Ibiza where he lived for almost three years. Here he lived from hand to mouth, fishing, diving, catching live rare fish for zoos, painting jars and vases for tourists and carving names for skis on wooden planks.
Gauguin avoided art schools and academies, but nevertheless began to paint in Barcelona and continued in Paris where he worked for a time with Picasso on his pottery. His first work was shown at the Autumn Exhibition in 1936. Gauguin participated in the Spanish Civil War as a reporter and was also involved in the war in Norway, both as a soldier and as a resistance fighter. He had a distinct language talent and translated significant authors into Norwegian. From 1939 to 1945 he was a theater designer at Unge Trøndelag Theatre. He also performed theater decorations for the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, for the National Theater in Oslo and for the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg.
Gauguin had a permanent residence in Tessebølle on Zealand where he set up a workshop. He became known for his woodcuts, which he began carving in Ibiza in 1936. His art was influenced by the visual impressions he received in the south of France and the Balearic Islands, and the bird, fish and insects were often combined in a strange way. Gauguin's political and social commitment came out most clearly in Barcelona, 1937, a tightly composed picture with strict color harmony. This commitment later appeared more cryptic and ambiguous. Gauguin became an innovator in the area of colored woodcuts, and created new methods and combinations that give greater variety in the picture surface. In his best pictures, a real and personal artistic commitment was present. Gauguin died during a trip to Spain in 1976, but found yet another valid expression of his artistic spirit in poems published posthumously in 1977.
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