Pont-Aven is a lovely Breton village near the Atlantic coast. Even though this small town — with its 3000 inhabitants — is fairly well hidden, one specific person singlehandedly put this small town on the map: world famous painter Paul Gauguin.
Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin is by far the most influential contributor to the School of Pont-Aven. When he settled in Brittany in 1886, it was one of France’s poorest regions. Farmers here kept to their traditional lifestyle, with all authentic customs and costumes. Gauguin did not just paint this primitive way of living, he did so in a very primitive style.
The beautiful town of Pont-Aven and its surroundings are the main subject in many the artistic works by The Pont-Aven School. Gauguin wasn’t the only one who contributed to the movement. Many artists, among of which were Émile Bernard, Armand Seguin and Louis Anquetín, were inspired by his work. Their paintings are often characterized by the bold use of pure color and a symbolist choice of subject.
Two of the most representative paintings by Paul Gauguin are The Yellow Christ and Vision After the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. The obvious lack of details and impressively bold colors clearly show one of the most important principles in the Pont-Aven School: imitation of nature is subordinate to the expressive power of color.
Strolling through this lovely small town, you will mainly find three things: tourists, art galleries and cookie shops. Walking down the sweet smelling streets of this calm and charming village is a very enjoyable experience. It brings you to a state of mind that is perfect to admire the avalanche of art that is all around.
Visiting Pont-Aven today is also a very unique experience. It gives you the opportunity to walk along the same routes where the artists used to walk, to sit on the same stairs on which they once sat, and to contemplate staring over the same marvelous landscapes they immortalized a hundred years ago with a box of oils and canvas.
Not being a painter, I chose to walk around town with an analogue camera. In honor of Gauguin, I tried to not think so much about the imitation of nature, but to focus on capturing color instead.
Pont-Aven left a green impression on me.