When was the last time clogs were fashionable? I have a vague memory of my mum wearing some slim-line versions in the 1970s. And who hasn’t been given some as a souvenir from a Dutch holiday? Personally, I think they’re a form of torture, but Gauguin seemed to like wearing them. On a recent trip to Brittany, in the foot-steps of the great man himself, we went to a reconstruction of Marie Henry’s guest house in Le Pouldu, where Gauguin stayed in the winter of 1889.

a pair of wooden clogs carved by Gauguin

Artistic footwear: a pair of wooden clogs, carved and worn by Paul Gauguin

(courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

As we wandered about the house, I spied a pair of dusty clogs by the front door and, yes, put my feet into them. Cheeky, I know (btw, they were modern, and I did ask the nice lady taking us round), but I was curious to know what these large, clunky objects would feel like.

Paul Gauguin Breton Girls Dancing

Soaking up the culture: Paul Gauguin’s Breton Girls Dancing, Pont-Aven, 1888

(courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

For Gauguin, clogs were emblematic of Brittany’s ancient culture. “I love Brittany” he once wrote to a friend, “I find there the savage, the primitive. When my clogs resound on the granite soil, I hear the muffled, dull powerful tone that I’m after in painting…” So clogs may not grace the wardrobe of any self-respecting WAG (or do they?), but they sure do things for artistic inspiration! We have a pair of clogs in our exhibition, beautifully carved by Gauguin himself. Which brings me rather neatly to his famous clog fight in Concarneau… but more of that later… 

Comments

matthew

Hi clogs did actually used to have an old fashioned image with them, but over the past few years especially they have made a real comeback.
I actually wear them for nights on the town now and feel cool as well, long live clogs ha
thanks :)

www.clogsformen.org

Leddy32

Hi Matthew, yes I agree with that because I wear black clogs all the time now for a night out around Liverpool> They are comfortable and look good too.
cheers
Leddy

ravit de-koning

hey, my name is ravit and i desing and manufactures leather clogs by hand-maid.
i wanted to say that clog remain fashionable and comfortable (special).
my inspiration comes from the dutch clog but in stylish modern translation.
ravit de-koning

Anne

Thanks for sharing this. I never know he could do carving!

Kealakekua

Clogs have been and always be in fashion every 3 years. Thank Karl Lagerfeld and Louis Vuitton for the latest uprising. And the personal torture may have been, because you are to wear hem with thick farmers socks. Not Wollford.

JohnT

I wore clogs in Lancashire too - in the late 1940s - but not as elegant as Gaugin's! They had replaceable iron rims - like horse shoes - around the soles and heels. In winter we could use the edges as ice skates on the 'flashes' - the frozen ponds made up of water pumped up from the coal mines. In summer, striking the edges while running along the pavements created sparks - simple pleasures. The coal miners and cotton mill workers found them to be safe, dry, durable footware.
Thanks for your blog. It is excellent pre-publicity.
John

ABHIJIT VIJAY P...

this are beautifully carved! i love to make for me !LOVE!

Megan

Is Mario Batali our modern day Gauguin?

http://bit.ly/9WbuZ3

Or are Crocs the new Clogs...

Elli Woodsford

I wore clogs in Lancashire in the 50's for playing out in...they made a great sound, I loved them then and I still love clog shaped shoes.

Joanne van-Veggel

I had a pair as a child. I later painted them and planted them with tulips, not as beautiful as Gauguins though!