Gauguin the alchemist at the Grand Palais in Paris

From 11 October 2017 to 22 January 2018, the Grand Palais in Paris will host the exhibition Gauguin the alchemist, retracing the various journeys of the artist and his work, as well as his capacity to endlessly push the boundaries of each medium.

Bringing his oeuvre together

The first exhibition of its kind to make an in-depth study of the remarkable complementarity of the artist's creations in the domains of painting, sculpture, and graphic and interior design. More than 200 pieces of the artist's work have been brought together for this occasion (around 55 paintings, 30 ceramics, 30 sculptures and wooden objects, 15 carvings, 60 engravings and 35 drawings). After the founding Gauguin exhibition held in 1989, this new collaboration between the Art Institute of Chicago - which holds a significant number of Gauguin's paintings and graphic works - and the Musée d’Orsay - which has one of the largest collections of the artist's paintings, ceramics and carvings in the world - allows Gauguin's experiments with different media to be presented in a new light. It shows the artist's oeuvre in all its diversity, taking into account recent research into the techniques and materials he used.

Thematic pathways

The exhibition pathway is dotted with rooms offering immersion into the techniques and methods of the artist's work. Here are some examples: As a prelude to the exhibition, the "Image factory" focuses on Gauguin's beginnings, from his representation of modern life in the wake of Degas and Pissarro, to the early repetitions of a motif, based on still life and the possibilities it offers for iteration. The "Main workshop" then focuses on the artist's Breton period. The observation of Breton life, integrated, transformed and assimilated, allows him to establish recurrent motifs with many different avatars (circle, seated woman, back view of Breton woman) and to begin formal research into drawing, painting and ceramics. The "Myths and reinventions" section shows the amplification of the mystical dimension of Gauguin's work in Tahiti. Inspired by the limited material remains left by Tahitian religions, Gauguin invented a new visual language based on Tahitian oral tradition. The worrying figure of the Spirit of Death (Buffalo, Albright - Knox Art Gallery) coming to torment Tahitian women appears repeatedly in his pieces of this period. The final section "Décor" focuses on Gauguin's obsession with the decorative arts in his latter period, both for interiors and in the evocation of a luxuriant nature (Rupe Rupe, Pushkin Museum). The ultimate work of art, his house in Hiva Oa (House of Joy) would complete his quest for a primitive golden age. The digital evocation of the House of Joy as a hologram, presented for the first time in an exhibition with the sculptures that decorated the entrance, completes the exhibition with the discovery of Gauguin's final workshop and home. Audiences can experience a unique immersioninto the workshop of his creativity.

As part of this journey, the exhibition also has a room dedicated to the Noa Noa manuscript, which is rarely shown in public.


Grand Palais

3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower

75008 Paris


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