The Outlaws - Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne

Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne were considered the outlaws in many respects, in the art world because of their revolutionary art styles and in the social order because of their reputation as hostile and antisocial characters. The founders of the new avant-garde art movement- post impressionism, they were the rebellions of their time. They rejected the conventional rules of painting and created their own unique style, much to the annoyance of the traditionalist. However their bad boys status is not limited to the art scenario, all three were well known for their eccentric and unapproachable nature.

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Interior of a forest by Paul Cézanne

Paul Cezanne’s art was much ahead of his time, even his contemporaries ‘The Impressionists’, known to be the  revolutionaries of their time couldn’t cope with his radical style. His ultramodern technique was by far too advanced for the impressionist to categories him as one of their own. Eventually Cézanne broke away from the group and cut all ties with his other fellow artists. He shifted to a secluded base in a suburb of Aix-en-Provence and started leading a very reclusive life in complete isolation.  As per his biographer Lawrence Hanson-“ He became violently anti-social that poisoned every relationship in his life. With every year his detestation of his fellow men seemed to grow and his efforts to appear even passably civil dwindled to next to nothing.”

The card players by Paul Cézanne
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 The Pool at the Jas de Bouffan by Paul Cézanne
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Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples by Paul Cézanne
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Still Life with a Ginger Jar and Eggplants by Paul Cézanne
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Vincent van Gogh like his artworks was volatile and unpredictable. His erratic brush strokes and intensely dazzling palette altered the face of art forever. His offbeat masterpieces have been an inspiration for future art movements like Cubism and Fauvism. Van Gogh became the poster child for the classic eccentric and unfriendly artist. His mood swings, alcoholism and mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder made him an outcast in the society. The artist himself confessed to his brother Theo that he felt like a misfit even amongst his own artist friends. After the infamous incident, when he cut his ear lobe with a razor, the locals in Arles signed a petition stating that van Gogh was dangerous and unreliable. Thereafter he confined himself within the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum and painted within the hospitals property.

 Garden at Arles by Vincent van Gogh
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Wheatfield with crows by Vincent van Gogh
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Roses by Vincent van Gogh
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Poplars near Nuenen by Vincent van Gogh
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 Poppy field by Vincent van Gogh
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Paul Gauguin became an outsider by choice, he abandoned his wife and five children and escaped to a small primitive island- Tahiti. Though it was an idealistic life for a lone artist but shifting away from civilization and selfishly running away from family responsibilities would qualify him as an oddball even in current times. Financial difficulties and his need to look for compositions and subjects unadulterated by the artificial western culture led him to visit Tahiti. Enamored by the exotic location and simplicity of the natives, he eventually decided to make the island his permanent home. His bright colored Tahiti paintings captured the innocence and ethnicity of the locals superbly. The usage of experimental colors and abstract shapes of the indigenous subjects in his tropical paradise-like masterpieces was fresh and original. Unfortunately, these new and untried techniques could not be comprehended and accepted by the art community of his time.

Three Tahitians by Paul Gauguin
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Two Tahitians by Paul Gauguin
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The Siesta by Paul Gauguin
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Self Portrait by Paul Gauguin

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Being ‘the outlaws’ wasn’t the only thing they had in common, the trio made groundbreaking progress in the art world which laid down the foundation for the modern art. Unlike other contemporary artists of their time, who composed what they saw in real life and copied it on their canvases, Gauguin along with Vincent and Cezanne were first of their kind who made from their imagination. Great artists like Picasso and Matisse were greatly influenced by these outlaws.

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