Born in 1944, young Gaugy heard his own call of independence and left his mountain village for Paris at age 14. There he survived by doing sketches in cafes and soon was invited by the owner of a lavish dining club to paint portraits of customers. During the day Gaugy pursued classical art studies and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, focusing on his great love of sculpture.
One night, renowned surrealist Salvador Dali entered the dining club and asked to see more of Gaugy's art. Dali was so taken with what he saw that he arranged for a one-man exhibition of Gaugy's paintings at the Galerie de Seine in Paris. Soon Gaugy's work was being shown in Brussels and Germany. The Soviet government purchased three of his large paintings at a group show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and the young artist was flown by consular jet to Moscow for museum installation of the works.
With a insatiable thirst for knowledge, Gaugy studied during the following years at a number of prestigious art schools in Paris, Rome, Germany and Moscow, as well as apprenticing in England with famed sculptor Henry Moore. In 1966 he immigrated to the United States, a move that led to the development of his trademark Linear Expressionist style.