This landmark exhibition gathered about 100 paintings, works on paper, woodcarvings, and ceramics by Paul Gauguin and his contemporaries to explore how the artist created his signature style during the year 1889. Co-organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 re-created on a smaller scale the radical independent exhibition that Gauguin organized with his artistic disciples on the grounds of the 1889 Exposition Universelle—a display of about 100 paintings now recognized as the first Symbolist exhibition in Paris.
Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 also closely examined Gauguin's first set of prints, a portfolio of 11 zincographs printed on brilliant yellow paper. First on view at Monsieur Volpini's Café des Arts, this so-called Volpini Suite chronicled the artist's early career and travels to the exotic locales of Martinique, Brittany, and Arles. The exhibition documented the development of familiar motifs—such as the mourning Eve, the woman in the waves, and fruit bearers—that would distinguish Gauguin's work for the rest of his career.