Today marks a Post-Impressionist master, UK’s richest artist and one of America’s most influential painters

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June 6, On This Day

The man who developed Synthetism

Gauguin in 1891
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 1897, oil on canvas, 139 × 375 cm (55 × 148 in), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Vincent van Gogh was his friend, Edgar Degas his fan and Pablo Picasso heavily influenced by his works — Paul Gauguin, born on June 7, 1848, was a French Post-Impressionist artist, who was unappreciated until after his death. He has influenced the French avant-garde and many modern artists, like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, he is aksi well known for his relationship with Vincent and Theo van Gogh, and the former brother famously cut his ear off after an alleged altercation with Gauguin. Edgar Degas was also a huge fan of his. Gauguin was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and writer. He paved the way for Primitivism and the return to the pastoral. Towards the end of his life, he spent 10 years in French Polynesia, and the experiences are evident in his works.

 

One of North America’s finest

Guston at a mural in 1940
Philip Guston, The Studio, 1969, Private Collection

A lifelong friend of Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston died on June 7, 1980. He is easily regarded one of the “most important, powerful, and influential American painters of the last 100 years.” He also frequently depicted racism, antisemitism, fascism and American identity, as well as, especially in his later most cartoonish and mocking work, the banality of evil. He is a founding figure in the mid-century New York School movement, and his work appeared in the famed Ninth Street Show. Guston also, at some point, changed from drawing only abstracts to the figurative movement. In May 2013, Christie’s set an auction record for the artist’s work To Fellini, which sold for US$25.8 million.

 

Using death as a central theme

Damien Hirst
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 2013 | Courtesy of Paul Stolper, London | via fineartmultiple.com

Born on June 7, 1965, Damien Hirst is easily well-known as the richest living artist alive in the UK, with his wealth estimated at $384 million in 2020. Death is a central theme in Hirst’s works. He is controversial, and became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved, sometimes having been dissected, in formaldehyde. In several instances since 1999, Hirst’s works have been challenged and contested as plagiarised. Interestingly, Hirst doesn’t physically create most of his works. His $78 million diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, was actually made by Mayfair jewellers; assistants painted his famous Spot Paintings as he ‘couldn’t be f****** bothered’, and his tiger shark swimming in formaldehyde was produced by MDM Props of London.

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