Riders on the Beach II (1902; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Riders on the Beach II - Paul Gauguin - 1902; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleRiders on the Beach II
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1902; French Polynesia
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationFolkwang Museum, Essen, Germany

About Riders on the Beach II

The artwork entitled “Riders on the Beach II,” created by Paul Gauguin in 1902 during his time in French Polynesia, is a quintessential piece belonging to the Post-Impressionist movement known as Cloisonnism. Gauguin’s method involves the use of bold and flat forms separated by dark contours, reminiscent of medieval enameling techniques, which is characteristic of Cloisonnism. This particular oil on canvas genre painting is currently housed in the Folkwang Museum, located in Essen, Germany.

The artwork itself conveys the tropical ambiance of French Polynesia with its vivid colors and relaxed, rhythmic composition. We see a group of figures, both human and equine, set against a backdrop of the beach and the sea. The color palette includes shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue. The pinkish hue of the sand contributes to the exotic and warm feeling of the scene.

Central to the composition are several riders on horseback, their postures and the horses’ forms simplified in a manner that emphasizes their silhouettes and the flatness of the picture plane. Some riders face away, moving toward the glittering sea, while others are depicted at rest or in conversation, creating a sense of casual daily life. The use of color and the simplified treatment of form are hallmarks of Gauguin’s style at this period in his career, reflective of his pursuit of a more primitive and pure expression in his work, away from the constraints of European artistic traditions.

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