Paul Gauguin Nevermore O Tahiti 1897

Paul Gauguin
Nevermore O Tahiti 1897

The Courtauld Gallery, London

Download the room guide in French / Télécharger le guide en Français

This exhibition takes a fresh look at the work of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) by focusing on myth, storytelling and the construction of narrative in his life and art.

Gauguin began his career as an Impressionist, but while his fellow artists used painting to capture their fleeting glimpses of the physical world, he argued that art should go beyond material appearances. He developed a radically simplified visual language, cutting through superfluous detail in order to explore complex ideas and construct poetic meaning. His work drew upon and synthesised a wide variety of visual and literary sources, including non-western art forms, classical sculpture, popular prints and caricatures as well as philosophical and anthropological texts, ancient myths and the Bible.

His travels to the remote corners of the globe became the stuff of shrewdly cultivated legend, but Gauguin was also deeply immersed in the critical debates and social networks of avant-garde Paris. As well as the construction of visual narratives, the exhibition looks at his activities as a writer and journalist, and the ways in which he developed his public reputation and fostered discussion of his work.

Rather than following a strictly chronological sequence, Gauguin: Maker of Myth is organised according to thematic sections that emphasise the parallels between different stages in his career. Bringing together works made in Paris, Martinique, Brittany, Tahiti and the Marquesas, it traces motifs and ideas as they are revisited and deepened in objects and images that he produced years and many thousands of miles apart.