Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Paul Gauguin. Autograph Manuscript. "On Ugliness:...". Four pages in French, 8" x 12.25", n.p.; n.d. Manuscript by Gauguin about contemporary Art, Including Odilon Redon.
    Odilon Redon (1840-1916) was a French post-impressionist painter, and a contemporary of Gauguin's. In this rambling, stream-of-consciousness manuscript, Gauguin expresses his positive opinion of Redon and expresses his views on other artists and the art of his day.
    Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was one of the most significant French Post-Impressionist painters. Breaking away from the Impressionist style, he pioneered a new form of painting referred to Symbolism. In the early 1890s, he began traveling regularly to the South Pacific, where his art was strongly influenced by the native arts of Africa, Asia, and French Polynesia.
    Condition: Pages toned, with some edge wear and mild chipping (not affecting text). Very good.


    More Information:

    "On Ugliness: a burning question and the touchstone of our modern art and its criticism.

    Without attempting to answer the question, I'll shed some light on possible explanations.

    A thorough examination of Redon's deep art, one doesn't find a trace of the monstrous, no more than in the statues of Notre Dame. Of course animals that we don't see lead the antediluvians have the aspect of monsters but that's only due to the tendency we have of recognizing as real and normal the typical majority. Nature is infinitely mysterious and such a power of imagination that she manifests her desire to create by varying her productions. The artist is himself one of these creations and Redon is for me one her chosen to carry on this continual creation. His dreams become reality by the realism that he gives them. Fundamentally human all his plants, embryonic beings, have assuredly lived with us, and have their share of suffering.

    In a dark setting we can scarcely perceive one or two tree trunks: and one of them is crowned with something, what appears to be a human head. With a radical logic he leaves us in doubt as to the reality of this vision - is it a man or only something that looks like that? Whatever the case, they both live on the same page, inseparable, supporting the same organs.

    And this man's head, hair disheveled and skull slightly cut open, is this a monster, no! In the silence and darkness of the night, our eye sees and our ear hears, but all this may be a memory happening in our heart of hearts.

    Oculos habent et non vident [They have eyes but do not see]. What precise meaning should we assign to this sentence. Is it truly matter [as in physical matter] that Jesus was targeting by using the eye matter. Similarly Redon, who speaks with his pencil, is it matter he targets with that inner eye? In all his works I see only a language of the heart, intensely human, and not [illegible]. Who cares about the mode of expression. Impulsive movement of the heart.

    In opposition to this critique, Huysmans writes about Gustave Moreau with great esteem. We esteem him also but to what degree? Here is a fundamentally non-literary spirit with a desire for being. Moreau speaks only one language already written by men of letters; in a way it's an expression of old [as in traditional] stories. His impulsive movement is far removed from the heart. He likes material riches. He stuffs them everywhere. Of all human beings he makes a piece of jewelry covered with jewels.

    You cool down a volcano's lava as you make a stone of boiling blood. If it were a ruby, throw it far from you. But we want rubies and we sell them to diamond traffickers!

    In a word Moreau is a fine chiseler.

    On the other hand Puvis de Chavanne does not smile at you, his impulsive movements don't smile at you. Simplicity and nobility are no longer in fashion. What do you wish for, distinguished art critic; these folks will one day be in fashion.

    If it isn't on our planet it will be on another more suited to beautiful things. And yet I do not want to believe that our humanity [last word is crossed out and this train of thought is cut off].

    [Redon] Eye examining consciousness. [Illegible] like a temple with this examining in the art of Buddha. Always a small, solitary figure in the [illegible] surrounded by palms or leaves letting through a silent shaded light. Here, certainly, is the eternal spiritual state that doesn't transform further, nirvana.

    Huysmans is an artist, his impulsive movement translates [illegible] an expulsion in literature. Many painters would like to be musicians or literary men. He wants to be a painter, he loves painting. At different time periods critiques have appeared about him but always going in his favor. At one time naturalist, he praised the naturalists and criticized the rest. Since then a great change has taken place in him because he has a thirst for art and doesn't fear treading on his mistakes. We congratulate him for it.

    In his book certainly he shows us another series of painters. As always he himself wishes to paint a picture. I cannot see in what way Redon makes monsters - they would be imaginary beings. He's a dreamer, an imaginative one. His painting of Bianchi [multiple people with that name] is very oddly described [by Huysmans] and reveals more so a conception of Huysmans than a portrait of Bianchi. Bianchi, like all ancient painters, found around him in nature a mode in which he incorporated himself. I'd go further and say he made it in his image. Did God make man in his image or did man make God in his image? I am heavily in favor of the latter option. Consider the work of Rembrandt and Raphaël, and the intimate relation between their female and male models and their self-portraits. Many others as well. Bianchi didn't voluntarily put as much vicious malice into that painting described by Huysmans. The 3 models are the same regardless of sex or age. All 3 have the same easy state that is the painter's state, too. Huysmans, in criticizing the painting, has pulled a Huysmans.

    Dulling of Imagination..." [Translation].



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 784

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 2 days left to consign to the 2019 December 7 Historic Flags of World War II Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    This was my first time dealing with an auction house, and I am 100% completely impressed with Heritage. There is not an aspect of this process that I have a critique for.
    Darryl S.,
    Stuart, FL
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential &  Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential & Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $648,838