Gallery Views of Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889

October 4, 2009-January 18, 2010
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Exhibition Hall

This exhibition is the first to focus on 1889 as a critical juncture in Paul Gauguin's artistic development. In 1889, Paris's Exposition Universelle offered an extravagant showcase of French industry, technology, and the arts. The recently completed Eiffel Tower, the tallest building in the world at the time, was a star attraction. Excluded from the exposition's official art exhibition, but reluctant to miss an opportunity to promote himself, Gauguin mounted an avant-garde show of his own in a café located on the fairgrounds. With this show, Gauguin announced himself as a professional artist and a leader of a new school of Symbolist painting. Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 re-creates Gauguin's bold move to impose himself upon the Exposition Universelle, reuniting some of the paintings that he and his artistic disciples exhibited at Monsieur Volpini's Café des Arts.

Gauguin also presented his first portfolio of prints at the Café des Arts. Now known as the Volpini Suite, this series of 11 zincographs (lithographs made on zinc plates) were printed on canary-yellow paper and chronicled the artist's early career and travels to Martinique, Brittany, and Arles. Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 celebrates the Volpini Suite, bringing together related paintings, woodcarvings, ceramics, hand-colored prints, and drawings to reveal the way in which making these zincographs helped the artist create his signature style-in effect, to become the Gauguin that we know.


Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 was organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Van Gogh Museum. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The exhibition was made possible through major support provided by the Malcolm E. Kenney Special Exhibitions Endowment Fund. The supporting corporate sponsor of the exhibition was KeyBank. Additional support was provided by the Painting and Drawing Society of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Online media sponsor cleveland.com.