©2008 NewFoundations

Gauguin On "Woman"

edited 8/19/11

Gauguin was a bohemian precursor of the lost generation and of the modern counterculture. At the age of thirty-five he forsook a career in banking in order to devote himself to art. He developed a spiritual kinship with the impressionist painters of his day, including a celebrated and turbulent friendship with Vincent Van Gogh. Neglected in his time, he has become an artistic giant.

Nagged to distraction by his wife who wanted him to abandon art and return to banking, Gauguin sought refuge in the South Sea islands where he produced some of his finest works. Upon his return to France with a young Indonesian mistress, Gauguin got into a brawl defending her honor and had to be hospitalized. While he was confined, she stole all that he owned--save his “worthless” paintings. Despite these experiences, Gauguin maintained a very sympathetic attitude toward women, regarding them as the chief victims of male hypocrisy.


Paul Gauguin (l848-l903) --
French impressionist painter of worldwide fame.

Women want to be free. That’s their right. And it is certainly not men who stand in their way. The day a woman’s honor is no longer located below the navel, she will be free. And perhaps healthier too.
-- The Writings of a Savage

Woman . . . is doomed either to get married if fortune permits or to remain a virgin, which is such an unnatural condition, monstrously indecent and unhealthy. Or else she is forced to become what is called a fallen woman. The police get into the act and the girl becomes a prostitute, brought down in the world and penned up in specially designated districts.
-- The Writings of a Savage

Woman, who is after all our mother, our daughter, our sister, has the right to earn her living. Has the right to love whomever she chooses. Has the right to dispose of her body, of her beauty. Has the right to give birth to a child and to bring him up without having to go through a priest and a notary public. Has the right to be respected just as much as the woman who sells herself only in wedlock (as commanded by the Church) and consequently has the right to spit in the face of anyone who oppresses her.
-- The Writings of a Savage