Essay by dgbrit3A+, January 2005

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As I analyzed Gauguin's painting Where Do We Come From? What are We? Where Are We Going? , 1897 France, there were several things about the piece that struck me as similar and things very different from artists of this time. Gauguin's use of flat and naturalistic color reflects the similar style of Nolde's Saint Mary of Egypt Around the Sinners. Gauguin's color choice seems to be very vibrant and tropical due to the fact he was living the last years of his life in the Pacific. As I viewed and analyzed the painting, I saw why this work might be seen as a human life cycle. Starting from the right side of the page there is a newborn baby that lies in front of his mother. Then as you move closer to the middle of the page there is a women figure reaching for an apple that may symbolize temptation and sex like Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Several other things such as the statue of what seems to be Buddhist may symbolize religion. What I thing Gauguin was intending to accomplish in the middle of the painting all of the different struggles and obstacles that he faces throughout the middle of his life. As I moved to the left side of the painting the first thing that became clear to me were the drastically different muddy colors that Gauguin chose to use. Garnett and Brownish gold are the colors that stand out the most and seem to clearly portray the end of the life cycle. As Gauguin came closer and closer to his death, he explored different forms of primitive life and brilliant color in a series of striking decorative canvases. Gauguin uses pure color and simplistic figures in nature to express a feeling of primitive lifestyle...