The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition Gallery, sixth floor
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Head with Horns. 1895–97. Wood with traces of paint, head 8 11/16 x 9 x 4 3/4″ (22 x 22.8 x 12 cm); base 7 7/8 x 9 13/16 x 6 7/8″ (20 x 25 x 17.5 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gauguin: Metamorphoses exhibition focuses on Paul Gauguin’s rare and extraordinary prints and transfer drawings, and their relationship to his better-known paintings and his sculptures in wood and ceramic. Comprising approximately 150 works, including some 120 works on paper and a critical selection of some 30 related paintings and sculptures, it is the first exhibition to take an in-depth look at this overall body of work.
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Maruru (Offerings of Gratitude) from the suite Noa Noa (Fragrant Scent). 1893-94. Woodcut, comp. 8 1/16 x 14″ (20.5 x 35.5 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. Photo credit: © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (photo by Michael Agee)
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Mata mua (In Olden Times). 1892. Oil on canvas, 35 13/16 x 27 3/16″ (91 x 69 cm). Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. On deposit at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Photo credit: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza / Scala / Art Resource, NY
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Nave nave fenua (Delightful Land) from the suite Noa Noa (Fragrant Scent). 1893-94. Woodcut, comp. 14 x 8″ (35.6 x 20.3 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Rosenwald Collection
Created in several discreet bursts of activity from 1889 until his death in 1903, these remarkable works on paper reflect Gauguin’s experiments with a range of mediums, from radically “primitive” woodcuts that extend from the sculptural gouging of his carved wood reliefs, to jewel-like watercolor monotypes and large, mysterious transfer drawings. Gauguin’s creative process often involved repeating and recombining key motifs from one image to another, allowing them to evolve and metamorphose over time and across mediums.
Printmaking, which by definition involves transferring and multiplying images, provided him with many new and fertile possibilities for transposing his imagery. Gauguin embraced the subtly textured surfaces, nuanced colors, and accidental markings that resulted from the unusual processes that he devised, for they projected a darkly mysterious and dreamlike vision of life in the South Pacific, where he spent most of the final 12 years of his life. Though Gauguin is best known as a pioneer of modernist painting, this exhibition showcases a lesser-known but arguably even more innovative aspect of his practice.
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Scene of Worship with Head of Hina in Profile from the relief ensemble Pape moe (Mysterious Water). 1894. Carved and painted oak wood, 7 3/4 x 18 x 2″ (19.7 x 45.7 x 5.1 cm). Private collection
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Tahitian Idol. 1894-95. Woodcut with hand additions, comp. 5 15/16 x 4 5/8″ (15.1 x 11.7 cm). Private collection, USA
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit, recto. c. 1900. Oil transfer drawing, sheet 22 1/16 x 17 13/16″ (56.1 x 45.3 cm). Private collection
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit, verso. c. 1900. Graphite and blue pencil, sheet 22 1/16 x 17 13/16″ (56.1 x 45.3 cm). Private collection
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Square Vase with Tahitian Gods (Hina Talking to Tefatou). 1893-95. Terra-cotta, 13 1/2 x 5 11/16 x 5 1/2″ (34.3 x 14.4 x 14 cm). Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen. Photo credit: Pernille Klemp
Gauguin: Metamorphoses is organized by Starr Figura, The Phyllis Ann and Walter Borten Associate Curator, with Lotte Johnson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints. The exhibition is supported by Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro. Additional funding is provided by the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.