Get to Know Gauguin

The place: Paris.  The year: 1889 and Paul Gauguin has found out his art is too shocking to be included in the Exposition Universelle.  Was he deterred? Of course not.  Gauguin and his friends decided to put on their own independent exhibition to display their new post-Impressionist style of painting.  The venue they chose was Monsieur Volpini’s Café des Artes which was conveniently located on the grounds of the Exposition Universelle.

Now, 120 years later, they have been reunited for the first time at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889, recreates the exhibition at the Café des Artes and brings together 75 paintings, prints and sculptures by Gauguin, Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard, Charles Laval and Émile Schuffenecker.

 As you walk into the exhibition you are greeted by several French academic paintings.   These works are an example of what was found acceptable at the Exposition Universelle and allow you to see how different Gauguin’s artistic style was.  Instead of muted colors Gauguin chose bold yellows, oranges and reds.  He even made a set of 11 zincographs on canary yellow paper.  These prints, known as the Volpini Suite, are one of the stars of the show because a complete set is a rare find and they also introduce you to the themes Gauguin would include in his work throughout his career.  As you move through the exhibition you’ll notice images from the Volpini Suite in other pieces.

The Volpini Suite

The exhibition takes you back to 1889.  While you are inside, it feels like you are in a 19th century Parisian café instead of in a museum.  The walls are hung with pomegranate colored wall paper that was in vogue during 1889 and dotted among the galleries are café tables where you can sit down and peruse the exhibition catalogue.

Inside the Exhibition

We even included a few surprises.  At the end of the exhibition there is a gallery where you can create prints and sculptures using Gauguin’s themes.  We’ll even let you hang your art up on the wall so you stage your own independent exhibition.  There is also a French boutique where you can buy imported linens, soaps, dried lavender, hand-painted silk scarves, jewelry and Quimper pottery.

The French Boutique

 Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 is on view now through January 18.  Tickets are:

  • free for CMA members and children under the age of 5
  • $12 for non-members
  • $10 for college students and seniors 65 and over
  • $6 for children (6-18)

For more information call 1-888-CMA-0033 or click here.


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