Portrait of the Artist with the Idol is an oil on canvas painting by French artist Paul Gauguin, created circa 1893 in his signature Cloisonnism style. The painting measures 43.8 x 32.7 cm and is currently housed in the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Gauguin rejected industrialized civilization and was inspired by the concept of the “natural man” as proposed by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He sought to achieve a “primitive” expression of spiritual and emotional states in his work, pioneering the Symbolism movement.
This self-portrait emphasizes Gauguin’s persona as the Western “savage”, showing him with a traditional Tahitian idol. The painting exemplifies Gauguin’s conceptual method of representation, with the idol symbolizing a spiritual connection to the natural world. The colors are rich and bold, with thick outlines and patches of flat color characteristic of the Cloisonnism style.
Gauguin’s work deeply influenced the French avant-garde and modern artists such as Picasso and Matisse. Portrait of the Artist with the Idol remains a significant example of Gauguin’s style and concepts, capturing the artist’s rejection of Western conventions and his desire to seek a more natural expression of the self.