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Paul Gauguin, French, 1848–1903; “Reclining Tahitian Women,” or “The Amusement of the Evil Spirit (Arearea no varua ino)”, 1894; oil on canvas; 23 5/8 x 38 9/16 inches; Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen MIN 1832

ST. LOUIS, July 17, 2019—The Saint Louis Art Museum on Sunday (July 21) will open “Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention,” the first St. Louis exhibition to highlight the exceptional range of the artist’s production.

Best known as a painter, Paul Gauguin was an inventive and versatile artist who also created woodcarvings, ceramics and prints. Featuring 90 works of art, most from the world’s leading collection of works by the artist, the exhibition presents Gauguin’s artistic output from his early Impressionist paintings to his iconic works from Brittany and Tahiti to his fascinating exploration of three-dimensional objects.

The exhibition will include more than 50 works of art from Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, including masterworks like the Impressionist painting “Woman Sewing” and “Tahitian Woman with a Flower,” one of the first pictures Gauguin painted on the island, as well as more than 20 sculptural works that reveal Gauguin’s skill as a ceramicist and wood carver. The exhibition also will include works from the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection, including prints by Gauguin, as well as Polynesian sculptures and Peruvian ceramics similar to those that inspired the artist. Unique to the exhibition is Gauguin’s manuscript “Modern Thought and Catholicism,” which was given to the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1948 by film star and St. Louis native Vincent Price.

“The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek holds one of the most comprehensive collections of works by Gauguin, and we are pleased to offer St. Louisans the opportunity to experience a wide range of the artist’s works lent by one of the world’s great museums,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The exhibition is organized in six themes that express Gauguin’s stylistic shifts and extensive range of materials, and allow the spectator to discover his travels within an increasingly global, 19th-century world.

The first two sections highlight Gauguin’s often overlooked Impressionist paintings and showcase works from the artist’s travels between Paris, regional French towns and Denmark. Examining Gauguin’s interest in the idea of “primitivism” as an alternative to the modern world, the third section follows his travels to Martinique and Brittany, and includes polychrome woodcarvings, hand-modeled ceramics and increasingly abstract paintings.

The fourth and fifth sections focus on Gauguin’s two voyages to Polynesia and illustrate Gauguin’s mature painting style, emphasizing color, simplified forms and decorative patterns. These sections also bring focus to the kinds of local Polynesian art that inspired Gauguin, including Marquesan and Maori sculpture and Samoan tapa cloth. The final section reveals how Gauguin’s fascination with comparative religion culminated in “Modern Thought and Catholicism,” excerpts of which can be viewed on interactive screens in the gallery.

“Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention” is organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum from the collections of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, and curated by Simon Kelly, the Saint Louis Art Museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art, with Abigail Yoder, research assistant.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional support is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; and Christie’s.

Tickets for “Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention” are available at the museum and from MetroTix.  Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $6 for children aged 6 to 12. The exhibition is free for museum members. The exhibition closes Sept. 15.

Exhibition tours and programming

Museum docents will offer tours of the exhibition on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 am to noon through Sept. 14. The tours are free with an exhibition ticket.

The museum will offer three sets of free gallery talks that expand on themes of the exhibition. Abigail Yoder, a curatorial research assistant, will discuss “Prophets of Modern Art: Gauguin, Vuillard, and the Nabis” on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 11 am and Friday, Aug. 2 at 6 pm. Allison Perelman, a doctoral candidate in art history at Washington University, will present “Inventor as Collector: Gauguin’s Favorite Artists” on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 11 am and Friday, Aug. 23 at 6 pm. Kirsten Marples, a doctoral candidate in art history at Washington University, will discuss “Painting in the Time of Gauguin” on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 11 am and Friday, Sept. 13 at 6 pm. Talks begin in Sculpture Hall; space is limited.

On three consecutive Sundays— Aug. 4, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25—the museum’s free Family Sundays program will celebrate the exhibition with the theme “Colorful Combinations.” Young visitors can investigate how artists like Gauguin experimented with color during a 30-minute family tour at 2:30 pm. From 1 pm to 4 pm, visitors can create their own art in Grigg Gallery.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org

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