Masterpieces of Paul Gauguin on show in Milan

Place: Milan, Italy

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Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait, 1885; photo © Inexhibit 2015

Milan | Gauguin. Tales from Paradise – exhibition at Mudec museum

Until February 2016, the Mudec- Museum of Cultures, in Milan, hosts the major exhibition Gauguin. Tales from Paradise.

The exhibition features some 70 works by Paul Gauguin, including world-famous masterpieces such as, among many others, Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ (1890-1891), Woman with a Flower (1891), and The Amusement of the Evil Spirit (1894), along with works by artists related to Gauguin, like Cézanne and Van Gogh.

The exhibition, curated by Line Clausen Pedersen and Flemming Friborg, is organized by “24 Ore Cultura” in collaboration with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, which has one of the largest collections of works by the French artist, and provided 35 works for the exhibition, with pieces on loan also from other international institutions such as the Musèe d’Orsay in Paris and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Gauguin. Tales from Paradise, Installation views; photo © Inexhibit 2015

Gauguin. Tales from Paradise, which presents paintings and sculptures, is divided into chronological and thematic sections, identified by different colors: blue, orange, and yellow.

The first section is dedicated to the “impressionist” years of Gauguin when his interest in landscape and the French countryside, which he shared with his friends Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, was expressed in a series of paintings, many of which Gauguin carried with him when he moved briefly to Copenhagen in1884 and then formed the core of his collection at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Along with outstanding paintings by Gauguin, this section features the “Still Life with Apples” (1879-82) by Cézanne.

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Installation view; photo © Inexhibit 2015

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Installation view; foreground “Still life with apples” (1879-82) by Paul Cézanne; photo © Inexhibit 2015

The second section focuses on the period 1878-1995 and on Gauguin’s fascination for “primitive” cultures, which emerges after his comeback to France and well before his first voyage to Tahiti, in 1887. The third section presents the works Gauguin made during his travels and stays in Brittany, Denmark, and Southern France.

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Installation view; foreground Paul Gauguin “Brittany Girl” (1891); photo © Inexhibit 2015

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The fourth sections depict the artistic evolution of Gauguin, among the works on display there are masterpieces representative of his career such as the impressive Vessel in Moonlight (1878) and The Amusement of the Evil Spirit (1894).

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Installation view; on the left Paul Gauguin, “Vessel in the Moonlight” (1878); photo © Inexhibit 2015

Paul Gauguin The amusement of the Evil Spirit (1894) ©

Paul Gauguin “The amusement of the Evil Spirit” (1894); photo © Inexhibit 2015

Finally, the fifth section presents the fundamental themes of Gauguin’s artistic vision, and the coexistence in his work of apparently opposed inspirational elements like reality and fantasy, myth and nature, dreams and objectivity. A plus of this section is the parallel between Gauguin’s Still Life with Flowers (1882) and The Roses (1890) by Vincent Van Gogh.

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Foreground: Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Flowers (1882), background: Vincent Van Gogh, Roses (1890), photo © Inexhibit 2015

The design of “Gauguin. Tales from Paradise” focuses primarily on the artworks, which emerge from dim-light rooms as iconic images; the visual dialogue between Gauguin’s paintings and sculptures is fascinating and cast a view on a less-known aspect of his art.
Nevertheless, the exhibition could provide a bit more contextualization of the pieces on view; besides a small multimedia installation near the end of the exhibition, there are only a few description panels in English and Italian. Borrowing an audio guide at the entrance is therefore highly recommended.

Gauguin. Tales from Paradise
Mudec – Museum of Cultures, Milan.
From October 28, 2015, to February 21, 2016

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Top to bottom: two installation views and Paul Gauguin, “Self Portrait with Yellow Christ” (1890-1891), photos © Inexhibit 2015.

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