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Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903) aspired to succeed and innovate as an artist. His relationships with artists, dealers, and others deeply influenced his practice and his Danish wife, Mette, was one of the most important figures in the narrative of his life. Gauguin’s aesthetic quest led him to travel from France to the far reaches of the Pacific and he arrived in Tahiti under the auspices of the French Ministry of Fine Arts in 1891. Immersed in colonial Tahiti, with its complicated mix of ancient culture and modern religion—and later, in the Marquesas Islands, where he moved in 1901 and worked until his death—Gauguin explored the depths of his own spirituality and faith. Joining the works from two prominent art collections—Gauguin’s paintings, wood carvings, and ceramics from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark, and works on paper by the artist as well as rare artworks from the Marquesas Islands, New Zealand, and Tahiti from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco—Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey offers unique dialogues between pieces from across the artist’s oeuvre and the extraordinary art from the Pacific Islands that captured his imagination and inspired him.

This vibrantly designed volume, published on the occasion of a major exhibition at the de Young in San Francisco and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, is the first to illuminate these objects in direct conversation with one another, capturing through breathtakingly beautiful reproductions, detailed object descriptions, and pages from Gauguin’s own notebooks, the impressions that other cultures had on the artist and his output. The book is further contextualized by intriguing scholarly essays that view the artist through the lenses of his wife, friends, other women, and the Pacific Islanders who surrounded and aided him. A picture gallery that features archival photographs of the artist and his contemporaries and a family album that charts his most intimate relationships further expand upon these compelling narratives. Filled with contemporary approaches to one of art history’s towering yet enigmatic figures, this catalogue offers fresh insights to readers first discovering Gauguin and to those who have long been fascinated by the struggles, indulgences, awakenings, and betrayals that undergird his remarkable art and spirit.

150 color illustrations. Hardcover, 224 pages.

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