Paul Gauguin, ‘The Call,’ (1902) Via Cleveland Museum of Art
Currently showing at the Cleveland Museum of Art is a landmark exhibition of work by leading Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin and his contemporaries. Encompassing 75 paintings, works on paper, wood carvings and ceramics by the artist, along with several works by his colleagues, the show focuses on illuminating how the artist developed his signature style by re-creating, on a smaller scale, the radical, independent art show that Gauguin and his artistic colleagues organized during the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. While Gauguin was excluded from the extravagant exhibition of conservative, academic paintings at the Grand Palais, he found a way to present his more avant-garde works and those of his colleagues at Monsieur Volpini’s Cafe des Arts, located on the grounds of the Exposition. The event, which was entitled “L’exposition de Peintures du Groupe Impressionniste et Synthetiste” is now recognized as being the first Symbolist exhibition in Paris. The Cleveland Museum’s “Paul Gauguin: Paris 1889” re-creates the avant-garde event, bringing viewers into late 19th century Paris, into a replicated cafe–complete with wallpaper and cafe tables–and embedding them within a telling historical context.
More text, images and related links after the jump….
Paul Gauguin “In the Waves.” (1889) Via Cleveland Museum of Art. Themes of women, bathers, laundresses and waves abound in the work of Paul Gauguin.
The exhibition is notable for being predicated upon new research– the idea for the show was inspired by curator Heather Lemonedes’ doctoral dissertation. Lemonedes, the museums assistant curator of prints and drawings, researched the artist’s series of 11 zincograph prints known as the “Volpini Suite,” which chronicled the artist’s early career and various travels to Martinique, Brittany and Arles. The prints were part of the 1889 exposition at the cafe and marked a highly definitive period in the development of Gauguin’s Post-Impressionistic style. Drawn more from the mind than from direct observation, they established a new kind of style and expressive approach that worked to distinguish the rest of Gauguin’s career. Lemonedes, along with curator Agnieska Juszczak of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Gauguin expert Belinda Thompson of University of Edinburgh, have designed the exhibit to function as a kind of visual and contextual re-creation of the 1889 exposition.
Paul Gauguin’s Young Christian Girl (1894) Via Cleveland Museum of Art
Aware that the average viewer may not have sufficient historical knowledge to make the connections, the curators have designed the exhibit to incorporate thorough background information along with the artwork. In addition to Gauguin’s paintings are works by his known and lesser known colleagues–Louis Anquetin, Emile Bernard, Charles Laval and Emilie Schuffenecker. The end result is a kind of enlightening visual dialogue that speaks volumes about Gauguin’s influences and creative processes. Structurally, the exhibit is designed to reveal maximum contextual information as well. The Exposition Universelle of 1889 coincided with the debut of the Eiffel Tower, and appropriately, the entry gallery of the Cleveland Museum sets the scene–displaying 16 photographs of the construction of the Eiffel Tower, whose arch functioned as the entrance point to the grand exposition.
Paul Gauguin moved past impressionism to convey more symbolic works. “Harvesting of Grapes at Arles (Miseres Humaines)” (1888) Via Abcgallery
Paul Gauguin, “Breton Eve,” (1889) Via VOGUE
Born in Paris in 1848, Gauguin lived a rather privileged childhood in Peru, where his mother was from. He worked as a successful Parisian stockbroker until 1882 when a stock market crash and recession rendered him unemployed, and he went on to pursue painting more seriously. He later traveled to Tahiti and produced the “exotic” and sensual imagery for which he is most remembered. Gauguin died in 1903 in the Marquesas Islands of a stroke.
Paul Gauguin “The Bathing Place” (1889) Via Cleveland Museum of Art. Gauguin’s style broke out of representative illustration and favored subjective experience.
Paul Gauguin ‘Noa Noa Nave Nave Fenua (Fragrant Isle) (1893) Via Cleveland Museum of Art.
‘Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889’ will be on exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art through January 18th, 2010.
Art: Gauguin Exhibition at New Rafael Vinoly- designed Cleveland Museum of Art [VOGUE]
Paul Gauguin’s Emotive Energy Bursts Forth in Cleveland Show [Post-Gazette]
It’s ‘Paris, 1889,’ Here and Now [News-Herald]
In the Waves (1889) by Paul Gauguin (Video) [Cleveland]
Exhibition Built on New Research Focuses on Gauguin’s Artistic Development [ArtDaily]
CMA’s Gauguin Show is A Revelation [ArtScape]