Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Leda en de zwaan, 1889, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Paul Gauguin - Leda en de zwaan, 1889

Van Gogh Museum – Until the  6th of June 2010
In 1889, during the Paris World’s Fair, Paul Gauguin and several friends exhibited their work on the festival site of the Café des Arts, owned by a certain monsieur Volpini. Among other works, Gauguin’s show included a series of prints he had made at the instigation of Theo van Gogh as a way of drawing attention to his paintings. This series of prints became known as the Volpini suite.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Volpini Suite: Design for a plate: Leda and the swan, 1889, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh FoundationThese 11 zincographs on brilliant, canary-yellow paper were created at a crucial point in Gauguin’s oeuvre and offer an overview of the central themes in his work, from the exotic landscapes of Martinique to scenes of Pont-Aven and Arles. With the Volpini suite Gauguin effectively presented his calling card as an artist.

Paul Gauguin: The breakthrough into modernity is the first to examine in depth this series of lithographs, which played such a crucial role in Gauguin’s development into a modern artist. The exhibition will also show works by Gauguin and his friends like Charles Laval, Emile Bernard and Louis Anquetin closely linked to the Volpini suite.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Breton girls dancing, 1888, National Gallery of Art, Washington (collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon)Altogether there will be some 60 works of art (paintings, works on paper, sculptures and ceramics) on view, including key pieces such as Be mysterious (Musée d’Orsay), Breton girls dancing  (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Self-portrait (Pushkin Museum, Moscow) and Is there news (Gemälde galerie Neue Meister, Dresden). The recent acquisition of the Van Gogh Museum, Breton girl spinning will also be on show.

Café des Arts and the Pont-Aven School
In the rebel tradition of Gustave Courbet and Eduard Manet, Gauguin and his friends had organized their own exhibition as a counterpart to the established art being shown at the Paris World’s Fair in the Café des Arts. This L’Exposition de Peintures du Groupe Impressioniste et Synthétiste was the first joint presentation by a group of artists who were to become known as the Pont-Aven School. They had rejected Impressionism and Realism in favour of Synthetism, a style characterised by a simplification of form and colour into flat, rhythmic patterns and undulating lines. This new movement became a major source of inspiration for Les Nabis, a group of avant-garde artists working in Paris in the period 1890-1905, and other artists.