ZenART's Membership Plans Terms & Conditions

(Updates effective 17/08/2020)

These terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) govern the ZenART Supplies Rewards & Referral Plan as well as Subscribe & Save Plan (“Membership Plans”), and members of the programs will earn zen coins in connection with the purchase of qualifying online products and online activities that are redeemable towards the purchase of certain products online. For the re-occurring members (Subscribe & Save Plan) this includes exclusive gifts & content.


  • Free. No purchase is necessary to obtain membership in the Rewards & Referral Program, but you must establish an account at https://shop.zenartsupplies.co/account/register . Please see our privacy policy, located here, to understand how information you provide us will be used. This program is void where prohibited.
  • Eligibility. In order to be eligible for the Rewards & Referral Program, you must create an account as outlined in these Terms and Conditions. You may create an account if you are at least seventeen (17) years of age, have Internet access, and have a valid mailing address. If you are between the ages of 17 and 18, you must have your parent’s permission to register for an account. If you choose to create an account, you are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account, username and password and for restricting access to your account. You are responsible for keeping such information current, complete, accurate and truthful. You agree to accept responsibility for all activities that occur under your account, username and/or password. You agree to provide only current, complete, accurate and truthful information. If you are accessing and using the Site on someone else’s behalf, you represent that you have the authority to bind that person as the principal to all Terms and Conditions provided herein, and to the extent you do not have such authority you agree to be bound to these Terms and Conditions and to accept liability for harm caused by any wrongful use of the Site or Content resulting from such access or use. You may only have one member account per natural person. Persons who are discovered to have more than one account forfeit their zen coins and will be unsubscribed from the Loyalty Program.
  • How To Enroll in the Rewards & Referral Program. (a) Create an account: Visit www.zenartsupplies.com (the "Site" or "Online") and become a registered user of the Site. Click here to be taken directly to the registration page. You will be asked for your first and last name, your email address, and a password. You will also be given the option to sign up for our newsletter. Once you have submitted the requisite information, you will be sent an email to the address you listed confirming your membership. Once you have confirmed your email address, you are automatically enrolled in the Reward & Referral Program and are a member (“Member”).
  • How to Access/Change Your Member Information. You must keep your personal information on your Account up-to-date. To do so, click on the "My Account" section and access your account by entering your registered email address and current password. From your dashboard you can access your account information; review your current and past orders; change your profile; manage your subscriptions and applications, and access your previous purchases.
  • How to Cancel Your Membership. You may cancel an account at any time. To cancel your account, please send an email to support@zenartsupplies.co and write “cancel membership” in the subject line. The email must come from the account currently listed on our servers as being associated with your Rewards & Referral Program. If you no longer have access to that email address, please email our customer service department and we will verify your status and cancel your account. Upon cancellation, you are no longer a member, and any unused zen coins accrued in your account will be forfeited and cannot be redeemed. Zen coins maintain their value only on valid accounts in good standing, and except as otherwise provided here for redemption, have no cash value outside of their redemption value on the Site.


  • General Members can earn zen coins on the purchase of qualifying online products at zenartsupplies.co. To receive zen coins for your Online purchases, you must be signed into your account. You may check at any time to see if you are signed in to the Site by looking in the upper right-hand corner of the site. Gift cards do not qualify for zen coins. Other products that do not qualify for zen coins are noted on the Site.
  • Earning Rate. Members earn 5 sen coins for every $1.00 spent on qualifying purchases (in other words, one (5) zen coins for every one dollar ($1) spent). Zen coins are based on your order subtotal, after any discounts, only. Zen coins are rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example, if you spend $9.99, you will receive 9 zen coins. The calculation is as follows: $9.99 x 1 zen coins per dollar = 9.99 zen coins, which is rounded down to 9 zen coins. This program started on August 17, 2020, and initial levels were set on the 2020 amount spent on ordering products. Note: Shipping and Taxes are not taken into consideration. If an item is return and/or price adjusted that will also be removed from your rewards calculations.
  • Gift Cards. Gift card purchases are not eligible to receive zen coins. However, once a gift card is redeemed, zen coins will be awarded to the recipient for the subtotal after any gift card values, provided s/he is logged into the account, as outlined in these Terms and Conditions.
  • Addition of Zen Coins to Accounts. Zen Coins will be added to your Account under the following conditions, and will generally show up immediately. You will receive zen coins:
    • At the time of account registration
    • During the purchase of qualifying products
    • For other activities outlined on the Site that may show up from time to time. Note that for these other activities, including “bonus zen coins” accumulations and other zen coin promotions, zen coins may show as “pending,” depending upon the activity.
    • Joining the Birthday Club. Birthdate must be entered 30 days before your Birthday to qualify.
    • For Liking the ZenART Supplies Facebook page and sharing the ZenART Supplies Facebook page with your following. This is good one time only.
    • Following ZenART Supplies on Instagram. This is good one time only.
    • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Your account will be automatically awarded the discount only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying purchase. Discount will automatically be applied to account if stipulations are met.
  • Exclusions. Members earn zen coins only on the purchase price of: (i) qualifying online products. Calculation of zen coins excludes payment by the Member for shipping charges and all taxes, including without limitation, federal, state, and local taxes or use taxes. Zen Coins will not be earned on any discounts or other credits offered in connection with a product or service. For example, if a product that is normally $50 is on sale for $25, a Member will only earn zen coins on the purchase price of $25. Purchases of gift cards, redemption of vouchers, and any type of price adjustments, including merchandise returns, are not eligible for zen coins. All purchases made: (i) by a Member prior to such member joining the Program, (ii) Online without a Member being logged onto the Website with the Member's Account number linked to the Member's Online account, are not eligible for Reward & Referral Program credit. The purchase of ZenART Supplies products outside the Zenartsupplies.co website are not eligible for the Reward & Referral Program.
  • Returns/Order Cancellations. Zen Coins earned for a purchase that is then the subject of a return, cancellation, refund, declined credit card or gift card, or other credit will be deducted from your account in an amount equal to the zen coins earned for the original transaction, including any bonus zen coins that may be applicable. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return. Zen Coins redeemed on an order will not be reapplied back to your rewards account for any reason on a returned order. If a return/cancellation will cause your account to have a negative zen coin balance, you will not begin earning zen coins again until your zen coins balance is returned to zero (0), by making purchases, or engaging in other promotional activities offered from time to time. If an item is exchanged (different product) any redeemed rewards on the initial purchase may be transferred to the exchange one (1) time only. Rewards used on an order that is canceled cannot be reapplied as they are good for just one use.
  • Bonus Zen Coins Promotions. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may run certain bonus zen coin promotions. Under bonus zen coin promotions, Members can earn additional or "bonus zen coins" in connection with the purchase of certain online products. When you purchase these specially marked products or make the purchase during a bonus zen coins time period, you will earn bonus zen coins on each product, as specified in the offer. Bonus zen coin promotions are subject to the terms and conditions of the offer and may be offered at any time in ZenART Supplies sole discretion. Bonus zen coin offers cannot be combined with any other offer.
  • Limitations on Bonus Zen Coins and Zen Coins, Generally. These terms apply to zen coins and bonus zen coins accruals. If you purchase a product during a promotion and the product comes with an additional, free product, zen coins will not be issued on the retail value of the free product. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product and pay a portion of the retail price after the zen coin's redemption, you will receive zen coins only on the leftover retail amount you pay, and not on any value attributed to the zen coin you used. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product in an amount equal to the full price of the product, you will not earn any zen coins.
  • Non-purchase Options for Earning Zen Coins. You may also earn additional zen coins on non-purchase activities. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may offer you the chance to win various prizes, and earn zen coins, for entering into promotions. For sweepstakes promotions, there is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO PLAY OR TO WIN. Rules and restrictions will apply to such promotions and may be found on the entry page of any promotion.
  • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Email a friend an $8 off coupon on $50 order by clicking “ Earn Zen Coins” then “ Refer a Friend”. Enter the email address of a friend who has not purchased with ZenART Supplies before (if your referral has shopped with us before the referral link will be automatically voided by the system). A referral link will be sent to your friend with an $8 off coupon on a $50 order. $8 off coupon on $50 order will automatically be rewarded to your account only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying first-time purchase with ZenART Supplies. Your Referral friend will receive an $8 off coupon on $50 order, 200 zen coins for signing up, and zen coins from their first purchase made while signed into their new ZenART Supplies account.


  • How To Use Your Zen Coins. Zen Coins must be used in increments outlined in these Terms and Conditions. The maximum number of zen coins that may be used in a single transaction is 10,000 zen coins. Zen Coins may only be used Online at the ZenART Supplies website. Zen Coins towards Products: Members can use their zen coins to reduce the purchase price of a product or to receive a product for free based on the following scale:
    • 500 zen coins = $5.00 off
    • 1,000 zen coins = $10.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 1,500 zen coins = $15.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 2,500 zen coins = $25.00 off your at least $50 order

    Zen Coins can only be redeemed in any combination of the zen coin and increment amounts set forth above. Redemption of zen coins towards purchases of products is subject to product availability. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return.

  • Gift cards. Once available, zen coins cannot be used towards the purchase of gift cards. Gift card redemption, however, is eligible for zen coins. Zen Coins accrued pursuant to the use of a gift card will benefit the gift card user, provided the user has an account in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.
  • To Redeem your Zen Coins. Before you begin shopping with us, sign in to your Shop account on our site. Select “Redeem Zen Coins” from the red tab housed in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and select the amount of zen coins you would like to redeem. You will be issued a custom code that you can copy and paste into the discount bar during check out (Please note - only one code can be used). Your total payment amount will be discounted by the amount of zen coins you allocate to the purchase. Note that zen coins may only be redeemed for the purchase price of the product. Sales tax, shipping, and other handling charges assessed in addition to the price of the product are your responsibility and zen coins may not be used to discount these additional charges.
  • Exclusions. Only one account per natural person. Only one discount code can be redeemed per transaction. Rewards redemption codes may not be combined with any other discount codes. Zen Coins may not be transferred or gifted at this time. Zen Coins cannot be used on past purchases. Zen Coins accumulated on different accounts by different members may not be combined or aggregated to make purchases of products or for any other reason. Zen Coins earned in a transaction cannot be redeemed in the same transaction. Redeemed zen coins cannot be retroactively applied to any past order or receive a price adjustment on any order where redeemed zen coins were not applied. Zen Coins have no cash value outside of the ZenART Supplies website and are available only to members in good standing.
  • Zen Coins Expiration and Time Lapses. All zen coins acquired, whether standard zen coins or bonus zen coins, shall expire 180 days from the date the zen coins are added to your account. Zen Coins expire 180 days from the date in which they were assigned to your account. Specific onsite activities in which zen coins will be awarded are set to accrue zen coins based on a time-lapse at the discretion of ZenART Supplies.
    • Sign up: zen coins are added to your account instantly
    • Order: zen coins are added to your account when your order is placed.
  • Once zen coins are redeemed, a discount code will be assigned and we are unable to cancel the discount code and reapply the zen coins to your Reward & Referral account. Discount codes generated by redeeming zen coins do not expire until used. They are a one-time use code, so once it is used it is gone. If an order is returned zen coins will not be reinstated.

4. Subscribe & Save Plan

  • Re-occurring purchase. Purchase is necessary in order to participate in this plan. The plan is worth $6.95 and will be charged to your account on the same date of the month that you purchased the plan, i.e. if you purchased the plan on 19th of January, you will be charged for the plan on the 19th of each month you are a Subscribe & Save Plan member.
  • 15% re-occurring discount. As a member of the subscribe & Save Plan, you are eligible for a 15% discount every time you put an order in place. You are qualified for the discount as soon as you purchase the plan.
  • Cancellation. After a purchase made with a Subscribe & Save Plan, you are not able to get a refund for the plan for the month the purchase was valid for but you can cancel for the following months.
  • Free samples & accessories. These are included for members of Subscribe & Save Plan only. These are not included in each order but the member will be informed when they will receive "extras" in their order.
  • Access to exclusive content. Exclusive access to tutorials, guides, tips & tricks in video, pdf, or audio format will be part of the membership program. Not all exclusive content is available but what is and will be available is up to ZenART Supplies sole discretion.


  • By registering with Zenartsupplies.co and joining the Reward & Referral Program, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions set forth in these Terms and Conditions, as well as any other terms that may be associated with the Reward & Referral Program. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to cancel, modify, suspend or restrict the Reward & Referral Program, your account, the redemption of zen coins, or any aspect of the Program, including, without limitation, the zen coin conversion ratio and the zen coin expiration policy at any time. Any changes can be made without advance notice. ZenART Supplies may make these changes even though such changes may affect your ability to use zen coins already accumulated. You are responsible for remaining knowledgeable about the Program Terms and Conditions. A Member's zen coins balance, as reflected in ZenART Supplies records, shall be deemed correct. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to determine the amount of zen coins in any Member's account based on ZenART Supplies' internal records related to such Member's account. In the event of an inconsistency between the amount accrued in a Member's account as stated on any Member's receipt and ZenART Supplies internal records, ZenART Supplies internal records will control. ZenART Supplies assumes no responsibility for errors caused by incorrect Member information. Your right to transfer zen coins earned or granted under the Program is strictly limited. The sale of zen coins is prohibited and may result in the confiscation or cancellation of your zen coins as well as suspension or termination of your membership, which in each case shall be final and conclusive. All transactions involving zen coins and all Member accounts are subject to review and verification by ZenART Supplies. The zen coins balance in a Member's account may be unavailable for use when an account or transaction is under review. ZenART Supplies may revoke any Member's membership in the Reward & Referral Program at any time if such Member engages in abuse of the Reward & Referral Program or fails to follow the terms and conditions of the Program. Fraud or abuse relating to the accrual of zen coins or redemption of rewards may result in revocation of membership in the Program and may affect a Member's eligibility for participation in any other ZenART Supplies program, present or future. Zen Coins are non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. The interpretation and application of the Program's Terms and Conditions are at the sole discretion and determination of ZenART Supplies. For more information or other questions, click on Contact Us.
  • The Terms and Conditions of the loyalty program are subject to change at ZenART Supplies’ sole discretion at any time and without notice to customers. Upon customer’s at-will termination of their Zenartsupplies.com registered account, or if a customer is termination for violation of these Terms and Conditions or other activities in violation of the intent and good faith intended use of this Site, all zen coins will immediately be forfeited and will no longer be redeemable. ZenART Supplies will make reasonable efforts to award zen coins as outlined above to all 1. registered and 2. qualifying Zenartsupplies.co customers but is not responsible for any technical or unforeseen errors that may occur.
  • Zen Coins are nontransferable, nonredeemable for cash, are nonrefundable and are not valid outside of Zenartsupplies.co. Purchases made outside Zenartsupplies.co are not valid for zen coin accrual (this includes, but is not limited to Facebook resell groups, Ebay, and Amazon).
  • Employees of ZenART Supplies are not eligible to participate in the Reward & Referral Program.

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Who Was Paul Gauguin? 12 Interesting Facts About the Infamous Painter and His Life

Who Was Paul Gauguin? 12 Interesting Facts About the Infamous Painter and His Life

Have you ever wanted to escape civilization to some remote sunny island? I know I do (sometimes). And that’s why I relate some ways to Paul Gauguin, despite his lifestyle. He rejected the modernity and noise of bourgeois France, preferring the (then) far-flung islands of French Polynesia. 

Granted, Paul Gauguin is a divisive figure in the art world. 

On one end, he was a self-taught, artistic genius whose bold, expressive style paved the way for the resurgence of Primitivism in art. And on the other, he was a guy who left his family behind to become an artist in an exoticized island paradise. Not to mention, when Gauguin arrived at the said exotic island of Tahiti, he got married a second time to a 15-year-old girl named Teha’amana. 

Art historians now have the responsibility to contextualize Paul Gauguin, his life, and his westernized view of the primitive—particularly, his treatment of Tahitian women in both art and attitude. 

Love him or hate him, you can’t discount his contributions to the timeline of art history. Gauguin’s devotion to his art and his pursuit of life’s greatest truths cemented his place as one of the most influential French artists of all time.

Who was Paul Gauguin and what is he known for?

"Art is either plagiarism or revolution." - Paul Gauguin

"Art is either plagiarism or revolution." - Paul Gauguin

Full Name: Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

Date of Birth: 7 June 1848

Place of Birth: Paris, France

Date of Death: 8 May 1903

Place of Death: Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Known for: Paul Gauguin was a key figure in the Symbolist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He’s best known for developing Synthetism, a post-Impressionist art style, and for painting from feeling and imagination rather than classical perspective. Gauguin’s work later influenced many modern artists like Pablo Picasso. 

12 facts about Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin was a French painter, sculptor, and print-maker. An important figure who catalyzed many developments in 19th and 20th-century art, though he never quite got the recognition while he was alive. He began his artistic career with the Impressionists before breaking away from the movement to develop his own artistic style. 

A key figure in the post-Impressionist movement, Gauguin experimented with expressive forms, colors, and compositions. He called this style “Synthetism,” which is characterized by large plains of color and vibrant outlines. 

His later artworks are mystical and symbolic. Primitive yet emotional. Much influenced by the French Polynesian isles where he self-exiled and eventually died. His eccentric lifestyle and carefully curated public personality make him a memorable—perhaps problematic?—figure in art history.

With that, let’s take a look at Paul Gauguin’s controversial life, one fast fact at a time.

Aline Maria Chazal, Paul Gauguin’s mother, is descended from Peruvian nobility

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris to journalist Clovis Gauguin and French-Peruvian Aline Chazal. 

Gauguin’s mother, Aline was the daughter of feminist-activist Flora Tristan, of the Spanish-Peruvian Moscoso family. Don Mariano Tristán y Moscoso, Gauguin’s great-grandfather, belonged to an old and aristocratic Spanish-Peruvian family established in Arequipa, Peru. Despite her noble family ties, however, Aline Chazal and her mother were cut off from the family fortune. 

Gauguin’s family history is quite a colorful one. His maternal grandmother made great contributions to feminist history. She also survived a violent marriage—one that ended with attempted murder.

In 1850, Clovis Gauguin moved his family to Peru—both to escape Napoleon III’s France and establish a Republican magazine in Lima. Unfortunately, he died on the journey. Arriving in Peru a widow and single mother of two, Aline Chazal was welcomed by her extended family. 

Gauguin’s obsession with primitivism and faraway exotic places began in his childhood

Gauguin identified as a “savage” soul—to him that meant being primitive, wild, and free. He even claimed to be of Incan descent, but that was far from the truth. He spent his early childhood in the upper echelons of South America. 

The Gauguin family lived in Lima for the next four years. They stayed in the presidential palace. Gauguin’s mother was distantly related to José Rufino Echenique, the president of Peru at the time.

They returned to Paris when Paul Gauguin was 7 years old. But that brief period made a great impact on Gauguin’s perspective. In his memoirs, Gauguin would repaint Peru as an exotic, colorful, and primitive world. One that he would relentlessly search for all his life.

He became an artist when he was almost 40 years old

Britanny Landscape (1888)

It’s never too late to pursue your passions. It’s better to find them later than never at all. Gauguin’s life is proof of that. He didn’t become a full-time artist until the age of 35. 

At 17, Paul Gauguin became a sailing merchant. This could also have contributed to his endless wanderlust. He spent a few years at sea until his mother passed away in 1867. A family friend, Gustave Arosa, assumed custody of the Gauguins. Arosa helped Paul get a job as a stockbroker and eventually introduced him to his wife Mette Sophie Gad. 

As a stockbroker, Paul Gauguin was earning good money. He started painting as a personal hobby. When he wasn’t working, he’d visit galleries and hang out with the artists who frequented a cafe near his home. These artists turned out to be the Impressionists. Gauguin would form a friendship with Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne. 

His career as a banker came to an abrupt end when the French stock market crashed in 1882. 

He was largely a self-taught artist

Paul Gauguin would paint on Sundays in Camille Pissarro’s home in France. Pissarro would teach Gauguin all about painting in the Impressionist style. After losing his stockbroker job in the 1882 French stock market crash, he began spending every day painting. In a way, painting became Gauguin’s source of happiness, an outlet to cope with the stress and loss of his job. 

But he never had a formal education in the arts.

Gauguin found much inspiration from the Impressionists as well as Japanese wood prints and stained-glass windows. During his time as a stockbroker, he’d amassed a sizeable art collection.

Though Gauguin enjoyed painting, it wasn’t very lucrative. Gauguin exhibited with the Impressionists at the beginning of his artistic career but received little attention compared to his contemporaries. 

In the end, his budding painting career caused some strain on his family life. He left his wife Mette and their kids in Copenhagen to pursue art full-time.

After moving away from Paris (and the Impressionists) Gauguin developed his signature style called Synthetism

Four Breton Women (1886)

Devoted to painting every day for the rest of his life, the artist set forth on his travels.

He began a modest, nomadic artist’s life, traveling from Paris to Brittany to Martinique in the French Caribbean to Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands. The further Gauguin got from civilization and closer to his ideal “primitive” life, the more mature and symbolic his artworks became.

These travels inspired his new style which he called Synthetism. Simply put, it’s an art style that synthesizes the subjects in a painting with the painter’s perspective. This style is defined by large areas of color and shapes that are defined by dark outlines.

This art style reflects Gauguin’s poetics: that art must synthesize the subject’s form with the artist’s feelings, imaginations, and aesthetics.

Eventually, Synthetism would inspire later modern art styles like Fauvism, Symbolism, and Cubism.

Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were close friends, until the incident with the ear

As per Theo Van Gogh’s suggestion, Paul Gauguin went to live with Vincent Van Gogh in his now-famous Yellow House in Arles. On the 23rd of October in 1888, Gauguin finally moved in. The two artists painted together, experimenting with expressive uses of color and painting by imagination rather than by sight. The rest of the time, they likely argued over the meaning of art.

Their friendship ended with the infamous incident regarding Vincent Van Gogh’s ear.

There are two versions of the story. One where Van Gogh threatens Gauguin with a razor and then cuts off his own ear. Another where Gauguin, instead of Van Gogh, was responsible. People say that Gauguin, a decent swordsman, used a sword and not a razor.

Spoiler alert, the second version has been debunked. But it’s an interesting twist to the story.

What really happened? 

Van Gogh is known to have a volatile personality, prone to frequent outbursts. Suffice to say, the friendship deteriorated to the point where Gauguin decided to leave Arles. 

One evening, Van Gogh confronts Gauguin with a blade. Paul Gauguin leaves Vincent Van Gogh alone in the Yellow House. That same evening, Van Gogh cuts off a part of his ear, wraps it in a paper, and leaves it with a woman at a brothel Gauguin frequented. 

The next day, Vincent Van Gogh is taken to a hospital to recover and Paul Gauguin leaves Arles. They continue to correspond until Van Gogh’s death.

Gauguin fathered at least eight children with at least three women

Paul Gauguin became notorious in the art world for his debauchery and many affairs—particularly with young, underage women. It begs the question: Can you love the work and abhor its creator? Can—and should—you separate the art from the artist? 

As a stockbroker, Gauguin met and married Mette-Sophie Gad. They had five children: Émile, Aline, Clovis, Jean-René, and Paul Rollon. After he lost his job, the family moved to Copenhagen. By this time, Gauguin aspired to paint full-time. Mette couldn’t understand his creative pursuits. The marriage disintegrated and Gauguin left his family and returned to Paris.

Gauguin had many young mistresses. Many of them from Tahiti were under the age of 15. Most notable of them was Teha’amana. In a single afternoon, she and Gauguin were introduced and then married. Teha’amana was 13. Eventually, she bore a son, Emile Marae a Tai.

Back in Paris, Gauguin had one more daughter, Germaine Huet, with his young mistress Juliette Huet.

Gauguin would outlive two of his children: his daughter Aline and his son Clovis. Three of Gauguin’s children became artists: Paul Rollon “Pola” Gauguin, Emile Gauguin (Emile Marae a Tai), and Germaine Huet (under the name Germaine Chardon).

Historians believe he might’ve had more children than we know of.

He was also completely enamored with the primitive life 

Tahitian Women on the Beach (1891)

In 1887, together with fellow artist and friend Charles Laval, Paul Gauguin sailed for Panama and Martinique. Unfortunately, their stay was cut short. The two artists contracted malaria and returned to Paris to recover. Nonetheless, this trip transformed Gauguin’s outlook. 

Suffice to say, Gauguin hated modern life. He left Paris to settle in Brittany. But even that wasn’t exotic enough. Gauguin obsessively searched for meaning through a “pure human existence.” One that was free from western tradition and European mentality. In other words, Primitivism. 

For someone who rejected capitalism and colonialism, Gauguin’s view is westernized and idealized.

Gauguin made his way to French Polynesia expecting the opposite of western urbanization. Instead of a lost and unmarred island paradise, he found a developing city under French colonization. 

The island life was still largely inspiring. Gauguin produced his most spiritual and mystic works here. But his resources dwindled. Paul Gauguin would return to France once more to exhibit his work. Only 11 of his 44 paintings sold. 

Gauguin painted his magnum opus shortly before attempting suicide

Gauguin returned to Tahiti after a failed exhibition. He took up residence in the Marquesas Islands—the last place he’d ever go. He arrived in Tahiti alone, in debt, and in poor health. Gauguin isn’t so much a creative hero. He was a man of many vices, and these all caught up with him in his later years.

To make matters worse, his favorite daughter Aline died in 1897. Gauguin began to question his own mortality. Stuck in a deep depression, he turned to art. 

Gauguin got to work on his largest and arguably best work of all: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? In some ways, this painting is a final farewell. In a letter to his friend, Daniel de Monfried, Gauguin talked about suicide. Where Do We Come Frome would be a culmination of his life’s work.

After completing the painting, Gauguin attempted suicide by self-poisoning. He survived, recovered, and lived to paint for a few more years. He died of a morphine overdose and heart attack in 1903.

Paul Gauguin lived in relative poverty and his work received commercial success only after his death

The myth of the starving artist seems true when you look at Gauguin’s life. After losing his stockbroker job, he had to adopt a more modest lifestyle. More so when he settled in French Polynesia.

He was able to sell some paintings for low prices. Gauguin wasn’t well-received by art critics and art collectors when he was alive. His Synthetist style was considered too avant-garde.

Art historians consider Gauguin’s last years to be most enigmatic. Many of his letters, works, and belongings were auctioned in Atuona—if not destroyed for their “pornographic nature.”  He is buried on Hiva Oa but denied a Christian burial as he upset many of the island missionaries.

Ironically, Paul Gauguin’s painting When Will You Marry became one of the most expensive artworks in history. In 2015, it was sold for $300 million to an unknown collector.

Also, there’s a crater on the planet Mercury named after Paul Gauguin. The craters on Mercury are named after famous artists, musicians, and writers.

Where can you find Paul Gauguin’s famous works? 

Some notable characteristics of Paul Gauguin’s signature synthetist art style include: bold, expressive brush strokes and vibrant, flat areas of color with thick outlines. Paintings of this style synthesize an object's essence versus focusing on traditional form and perspective. 

Here are some of Paul Gauguin’s best works you should know of—and where to find them.

Self-portrait with portrait of Bernard, ‘Les Misérables’ (1888) The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Gauguin often identified as a troubled, misunderstood, and persecuted soul. Here, he portrays himself as Jean Valjean—the main character in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. 

This painting represents his time in Arles and his close friendships with Vincent Van Gogh and Émile Bernard. We see the latter in a portrait-within-a-portrait on the upper right. The trio of artists exchanged portraits with each other to commemorate their then harmonious relationship.

The Painter of Sunflowers (1888) The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

This is a portrait of another art legend at work. All through the eyes of an equally great artist. On seeing the portrait, Van Gogh remarked, "My face has lit up, after all, a lot since, but it was indeed me, extremely tired and charged with electricity as I was then."

Vision After the Sermon (1888) Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

During his time in Pont-Aven, Brittany, Paul Gauguin’s art transitions out of his early impressionist roots and matures into synthetism. Much of his paintings from this time show the simple lives of local Breton peasants. This painting is one of the first important works in the Synthetist art movement.

Departing from accurately capturing the impression of light and shadow, Gauguin starts to synthesize the subject with his emotions and imagination. Gauguin depicts what a group of peasant women see after a church sermon: Jacob wrestling with an angel. The perspective is purposefully skewed—the holy is separated from the worldly.

The Yellow Christ (1889) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

At first, the color can be quite jarring. You may think, “What’s up with a yellow Jesus?” Well, this is an essential piece of Cloisonnism, a prime example of Gauguin’s (then) new and developing art style. It evokes the cloisonné technique in enamelware in which metal wires are shaped into outlines and filled with colored glass.

You wouldn’t picture Christ’s crucifixion in the autumnal fields of 19th century Breton, but Paul Gauguin did. We see Christ surrounded by Bretonian women. This figure of Christ is modeled after a crucifix in the Pont-Aven church. It’s more about Gauguin’s feelings and imagination, more than it is an accurate portrayal of a subject.

Jesus Christ is a recurring figure in Gauguin’s body of work. He often felt lonely and misunderstood, comparing his suffering to that of Christ himself. The Yellow Christ makes a later appearance in the background of another self-portrait. 

Self-Portrait with Halo and Snake (1889) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Gauguin found the growing artist colony in Pont-Aven too crowded. He relocated to an inn run by Marie Henry in a fishing village called Le Pouldou. There, he and a smaller group of artists painted every corner of the inn. 

This self-portrait was on one of the cupboard doors. It shows Gauguin’s fascination with religious and spiritual symbolism. Gauguin makes this self-portrait like it’s a caricature. He only paints part of himself. We see his head, a vague form of a hand, and symbols that deal with dualities: good and evil, heaven and hell, temptation and sin.

The Spirit of the Dead Watching (1892) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Allegedly, Paul Gauguin came home late at night and frightened his young wife Teha’amana. We see here the teenage girl lying naked and afraid in bed while a hooded tupapau (Tahitian spirit of the dead) watches from the shadows. Teha’amana, whom Gauguin also called Tehura, was a frequent subject of his paintings.

Gauguin explores many philosophical dualities and universal truths. Light and darkness, youth and age, the “primitive” Tahiti and “civilized” Europe, the contrast between life and death.

You can interpret the painting in a lot of ways. Why did Teha’amana see a spirit in the place of Gauguin? Is Gauguin portraying himself as a figure of death and old age on purpose? What does this painting say about their marriage—now controversial in the eyes of art historians? 

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Sick, impoverished, grieving, and depressed in Tahiti, Gauguin got to work on his manifesto. A magnum opus meant to be his largest, greatest, and last work. 

Almost four meters wide and over a meter tall, it’s a visual essay that reflects on the cycle of life and death. Quite like an ancient scroll, the painting is meant to be “read” from right to left. You can divide or group the painting into three stages—each reflecting the three questions posited in the title. We see birth and the beginning of life, adulthood and the struggle of daily existence, and finally death and divinity.

The painting asks us to ponder the meaning of life and death and beyond. How would you read this piece? 

What are your thoughts and feelings about Paul Gauguin?

We hope you learned a little (or a lot) more about art history through this piece. So what do you think about Gauguin as a person and as an artist? What do you think is the answer to the questions in his final work? 

Every month, the ZenART blog features a famous person in art history. People like Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, and Claude Monet! Got a fave artist we haven’t talked about yet? Someone you’d like to learn more about? Drop their names in the comments section below! And stay tuned to our Inspiration section for our next icon of art history.

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