Musée d'Orsay: Paul Gauguin The Maison du Jouir

Paul Gauguin
The Maison du Jouir

Sculpted wood from the Maison du Jouir
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Sculpted wood from the Maison du Jouir
Bas relief, polychrome sequoia wood
H. 284; W. 732 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR

"Be Mysterious"
"Love and be happy"
Nude Woman and Small Dog
Nude Woman and Tree with Red Fruit

Bois de la Maison du Jouir [Sculpted wood from the Maison du Jouir]

Gauguin lived out his last months at Atuona, on the Marquesas Islands, in a hut mounted on stilts, made of wood, palm leaves and bamboo. He decorated the door with a set of sculptured panels, directly hewn out of sequoia wood. The three horizontal panels bear inscriptions which reveal the artist's quest for a primitive golden age, an idea which haunted him until his death. Indeed, he gave the hut the provocative name of "Maison du Jouir" (house of sensual delight). The two lower panels seem to state the conditions to be met in order to reach this Eden: "Soyez mystérieuses" (be mysterious) and "Soyez amoureuses et vous serez heureuses" (find love and you will find happiness). The nudes and female torsos which illustrate these mottoes, sturdy and serene, are sculpted with rough, incisive strokes and set in a decor of flowers and animals. The voluptuous naiveté of this work marks the beginnings of a primitivist aesthetic ideal which was developed to brilliant effect in the 20th century by artists such as Matisse, Derain, Lhote and Picasso.

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