Old Women of Arles (1888; Arles-sur-tech, France) by Paul Gauguin

Old Women of Arles - Paul Gauguin - 1888; Arles-sur-tech, France

Artwork Information

TitleOld Women of Arles
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1888; Arles-sur-tech, France
Dimensions73 x 92 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US

About Old Women of Arles

The artwork titled “Old Women of Arles” is a creation by the notable artist Paul Gauguin, dating back to 1888 from Arles-sur-tech, France. It is an oil on canvas piece that exemplifies the Post-Impressionist art movement. The genre painting, with dimensions of 73 by 92 centimeters, is housed in the Art Institute of Chicago, located in Chicago, IL, US.

This noteworthy artwork by Gauguin depicts a scene with women, likely from the town of Arles, captured in a distinctive post-impressionistic style. The composition consists of figures positioned in the foreground and middle ground, with a vividly colored landscape stretching into the background. Gauguin employs flat areas of bold color and outlines that signify a departure from the naturalistic representations of impressionism, moving towards a more abstracted and expressive quality that would become a hallmark of his and other post-impressionists’ work.

In the foreground, a group of old women wearing traditional attire can be seen, their faces marked by Gauguin’s characteristic simplification of forms. These women appear pensive or contemplative, and their positioning in the artwork suggests they may be engaged in a common social activity or simply sharing in each other’s company. Behind them, the landscape is infused with an almost unnatural color palette, with heightened hues that alter the viewer’s perception of space and form. The presence of a white picket fence adds a touch of domesticity to the rural scene, juxtaposing the natural landscape with human-made elements.

Gauguin’s technique emphasizes the emotional and spiritual over realistic representation, seeking to evoke a response from the viewer through the use of color, line, and composition rather than through accurate depictions of reality. This piece exemplifies the shift in focus from the outward world to the interior landscapes of emotion and symbolism, which would become instrumental in shaping the course of modern art.

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