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This Cfile.Daily vault post was originally published in March 2014.
The exhibition, Gauguin: Metamorphoses at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (March 8-June 8, 2014) approaches the French post-impressionist artist from a different, more fluid angle.
Gauguin is primarily known as a painter, but the exhibition of some 150 works explores how Gauguin pursued ideas across a variety of mediums— prints, woodcuts and ceramics.
The Museum states that Gauguin’s creative process involved repetition and recombining motifs from one work to the next, which made them evolve and metamorphose (we have a title!) over time and across mediums. As viewers follow this thread through the exhibition, the Museum hopes to project “a darkly mysterious and dreamlike vision of life in the South Pacific, where (Gauguin) spent most of the final 12 years of his life.”
Roberta Smith of the New York Times praised the Museum’s restraint in offering this different view of the artist:
“Organized by Starr Figura, working with Lotte Johnson of the Modern’s drawings and prints department, the show accomplishes this feat (of thrillingly complicating our understanding of Gauguin) without an iota of blockbuster grandstanding or romancing the myth of the artist-rebel. In Gauguin’s case, that myth was of a hero who fled the evils of modern civilization for the unsullied land and the supposed primitive people of Tahiti, searching for a deeper spirituality but also more relaxed sexual mores.”
The upside for CFile is that we get to inspect some of Gauguin’s explorations within the field of ceramics. The pieces from the show are displayed here, evoking the idea of iconographic religious artifacts while also interestingly being artifacts from a master painter’s creative thought process.
Above image: Paul Gauguin, Vessel in the Form of the Head of a Breton Girl, 1886-87. Photograph courtesy of MOMA.
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