Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey @ de Young Museum, San Francisco
Paul Gaugin made the observation that, “We never know what stupidity really is until we have experimented on ourselves.” The painter and sculptor, who was raised in Peru, began his professional life as a stockbroker in Paris, painted for nine weeks with Van Gogh in Arles, and died in a cabin on the Marquesas Islands, may not have been a master of morality, but was absolutely a master of color and form.
Through April 7, 2019, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco presents Gaugin: A Spiritual Journey, at the de Young, where over 60 of his works and a video installation filmed in Upola Island, Samoa, will be shown, along with Maori, Marquesan and Tahitian pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. As he traveled the world, Gaugin was on a philosophical journey, starting as an Impressionist, and inspired by Japanese prints and African art, wielded robust color, and paved the way for Symbolist and Expressionist styles. In his own words, he sought to, “clothe an idea in visible form.” So immersed was he in the culture of Oceania, he painted the mystical “third gender” Tahitian Mahu, and experimented with ceramics and wood carvings, all on display. The show is co-curated with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, which houses an extensive collection of Gaugin’s work. —Gwynned Vitello