It’s May Day!

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

Paul Gauguin

May 1st originated as an ancient spring festival. It is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane, the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night and various other northern European pagan celebrations. As time passed, and Europe became Christianized, May Day transitioned into new traditions. Today, my Metropolitan Museum of Art calendar displayed Gauguin’s A Farm in Brittany 1894. What a great way to celebrate the coming of spring. And coincidentally, a print of A Farm in Brittany has a special place in my kitchen, because the colours and subject matter always lift my spirits.

In the year 1893, Paul Gauguin left the warmth and sunshine of Tahiti to return to France for a two-year stay. This would mark his last visit. Yet it was time well-spent for Gauguin experienced an artistic shift in his work. The summer of 1894, Gauguin traveled to Brittany. Breton culture, with its lingering remnants of a pagan past, pleased Gauguin’s creative tendencies for the primitive and exotic. In A Farm in Brittany, Gauguin applied short, horizontal strokes of paint on the farmhouses, a reminder of his earlier, Impressionist works. The dramatic colours are compelling and striking.

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (June 7, 1848 – May 8, 1903) led a difficult and complex life beginning in Paris and ending in Polynesia. Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh were friends and colleagues. Stay tuned for more on the life of Paul Gauguin.

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One last note – I have found that The Metropolitan Museum of Art calendar, which is published every year by Workman Publishing Company, Inc. is an essential tool in my art studies.