Be Mysterious (1890) by Paul Gauguin

Be Mysterious - Gauguin, Paul - 1890

Artwork Information

TitleBe Mysterious
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1890
MediumLime wood and polychrome
Dimensions73 x 95 x 0.5 cm (29 x 37 1/2 x 1/16 in)
Current LocationMusee d'Orsay, Paris
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About Be Mysterious

Paul Gauguin, a French Post-Impressionist artist, sought to express spiritual and emotional states through his artwork. He idealized a primitive expression and felt the need to flee from urban civilization in search of an edenic paradise where he could create pure, primitive art. Gauguin was part of a group of avant-garde artists that pursued synth├ętisme, simplifying sensory data to its fundamentals.

Gauguin’s artwork was innovative in his use of color, which he saw as a means of expressing emotions, rather than attempting to mimic nature. He also produced many self-portraits, with a significant production in 1888 and 1889. Gauguin styled himself as “savage,” and his art reflected that philosophy.

One of Gauguin’s notable works is “Be Mysterious,” painted in 1890. The painting features an image of a woman with a mysterious expression on her face, with a hazy and dreamlike background. The woman’s exotic, bright clothing and lack of defined facial features add to the sense of enigma conveyed by the painting. The painting is representative of Gauguin’s pursuit of primitive expression and his innovative use of color to express emotions.

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