Still Life with Parrots (1902; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Still Life with Parrots - Paul Gauguin - 1902; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Parrots
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1902; French Polynesia
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationPushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia

About Still Life with Parrots

“Still Life with Parrots” is a notable work by French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, created in 1902 during his time in French Polynesia. This oil on canvas piece exemplifies the still life genre and stands as a testament to Gauguin’s unique approach to Post-Impressionism. Housed in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia, the artwork showcases Gauguin’s characteristic vibrant color palette and stylized forms—a departure from the naturalist depiction of still life subjects favored by classical artists.

In the artwork, viewers are presented with a tabletop arrangement that includes a pair of parrots, one lying on its back and the other upright. Rich colors dominate the composition, with vivid hues of orange, green, and red painting the plumage of the parrots, infusing the artwork with a sense of tropical vibrancy. Accompanying the exotic birds are elements of natural and man-made origin; a red spherical object with attached strings, possibly a ripe fruit or an artifact, offsets the organic forms. Beneath the angular perspective of the flat surface, which is draped with a white cloth, one can observe a decorative vase adorned with floral motifs and a sculptural object resembling a religious relic or icon prominently placed in the background.

Gauguin’s typical usage of bold outlines and flattening of the pictorial space is evident. The juxtaposition of colors and forms lends an almost abstract quality to the work, indicative of the Post-Impressionist movement’s break from exact representation to a more subjective evocation of the world. Through this still life, Gauguin’s complex relationship with the themes of exoticism and cultural synthesis, which marked much of his later career, is palpably expressed.

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