Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

French Post-Impressionist Artist, Painter, Sculptor, Print-Maker, Ceramist and Writer

"Life is hardly more than a fraction of a second. Such a little time to prepare oneself for eternity!"

"A bit of advice, don't copy nature too closely. Art is an abstraction; as you dream amid nature, extrapolate art from it and concentrate on what you will create as a result. "

"A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes that he has got the biggest piece."

"A great sentiment can be rendered immediately. Dream on it and look for the simplest form in which you can express it."

"A time will come when people will think I am a myth, or rather something the newspapers have made up."

"A critic at my house sees some paintings. Greatly perturbed, he asks for my drawings. My drawings! Never! They are my letters, my secrets."

"A critic is someone who meddles with something that is none of his business. "

"Art is either plagiarism or revolution. "

"Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?"

"A young man who is unable to commit a folly is already an old man."

"And here in my isolation I can grow stronger. Poetry seems to come of itself, without effort, and I need only let myself dream a little while painting to suggest it."

"Art: a mad search for individualism."

"Beware of luxury! Beware of acquiring the taste and need for it, under the pretext of providing for the morrow."

"Color which, like music, is a matter of vibrations, reaches what is most general and therefore most indefinable in nature: its inner power."

"Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams."

"Civilization is what makes you sick."

"Do not copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction."

"Do not finish your work too much. An impression is not sufficiently durable for its first freshness to survive a belated search for infinite detail; in this way you let the lava grow cool."

"Copying nature — what is that supposed to mean? Follow the masters! But why should one follow them? The only reason they are masters is that they didn't follow anybody!"

"Follow the masters! But why should one follow them? The only reason they are masters is that they didn't follow anybody! "

"Go on working, freely and furiously, and you will make progress."

"I am a great artist and I know it. It's because of what I am that I have endured so much suffering, so as to pursue my vocation, otherwise I would consider myself a rogue — which is what many people think I am, for that matter."

"Having the certitude of a succession of days... equally free and beautiful, peace descends on me. "

"How do you see this tree? Is it really green? Use green, then, the most beautiful green on your palette. And that shadow, rather blue? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible."

"Happiness and work rose up together with the sun, radiant like it."

"However depressed I may be I am not in the habit of giving up a project without having tried everything, even the 'impossible', to gain my end."

"I made a promise to keep a watch over myself, to remain master of myself, so that I might become a sure observer. "

"I am entering into the truth, into nature. "

"I begin to feel an enormous need to become savage and to create a new world. "

"I am leaving in order to have peace and quiet, to be rid of the influence of civilization. I want only to do simple, very simple art, and to be able to do that, I have to immerse myself in virgin nature, see no one but savages, live their life, with no other thought in mind but to render, the way a child would, the concepts formed in my brain and to do this with the aid of nothing but the primitive means of art, the only means that are good and true."

"I have come to an unalterable decision – to go and live forever in Polynesia. Then I can end my days in peace and freedom, without thoughts of tomorrow and this eternal struggle against idiots. "

"I was aware that on my skill as a painter would depend the physical and moral possession of the model. "

"I'd like to write the way I do my paintings, that is, as fantasy takes me, as the moon dictates."

"I plunged eagerly and passionately into the wilderness, as if in the hope of thus penetrating into the very heart of this Nature, powerful and maternal, there to blend with her living elements. "

"If I did what has already been done, I would be a plagiarist and would consider myself unworthy; so I do something different and people call me a scoundrel. I'd rather be a scoundrel than a plagiarist!"

"I shut my eyes in order to see. "

"In art, there are only two types of people: revolutionaries and plagiarists. And in the end, doesn't the revolutionary's work become official, once the State takes it over?"

"In matters of art one's state of mind is three-quarters of what counts, so it has to be carefully nurtured if you want to do something great and lasting. "

"If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue. "

"In order to produce something new, you have to return to the original source, to the childhood of mankind."

"It is better to paint from memory, for thus your work will be your own. "

"In Europe men and women have intercourse because they love each other. In the South Seas they love each other because they have had intercourse. Who is right?"

"In painting one must search rather for suggestion than for description, as is done in music."

"It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block."

"In the art of literature there are two contending parties. Those who aim to tell stories that are more or less well thought out, and those who aim at beautiful language, beauty of form. This contest may last a very long time; each side has a fifty-fifty chance. Only the poet can rightfully demand that verse be beautiful and nothing but."

"It is well for young men to have a model, but let them draw the curtain over it while they are painting. "

"It is useless to advise solitude for everyone; one must be strong enough to endure it and to work alone. "

"Lacking many of the essential implements, it irritated me to be reduced to impotence in the face of artistic projects to which I had passionately given myself."

"It was so simple to paint things as I saw them; to put without special calculation a red close to a blue. "

"Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge — and has to content oneself with dreaming."