"The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have the largest repository of works on paper in the western United States, including numerous works by Gauguin—among them, The Woman from Arles, one of his most important drawings,” says Melissa Buron, Director of the Art Division at FAMSF. “Putting these works on view with Gauguin’s stunning oil paintings provides an unprecedented opportunity for our collection to shine and take its place in the larger historical narrative.”
Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey will feature works showing the deep influence that other artists, places, and relationships had on the arc of his career. Embarking on a profession in painting with no formal training, Gauguin was mentored by Impressionists including Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas. (In fact, as an avid collector himself, Gauguin originally owned two of the Pissarro paintings on view in the exhibition.) Later collaborations with Vincent van Gogh and Émile Bernard show experiments with Symbolism as Gauguin developed his own distinctive style of painting, using flat fields of bold color and dark outlines that in turn influenced artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
The exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the progression and scope of Gauguin’s work, from an early drawing of his wife, Mette Gad (ca. 1873), to better-known paintings inspired by his travels to Tahiti, such as Tahitian Woman with a Flower (Vahine no te tiare), from 1891. Although Gauguin is best known as a painter and printmaker, the exhibition will also feature fifteen experimental ceramics and intricate wood carvings interspersed with period photography and excerpts from his own letters and writings.