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Gauguin Exhibition: Metamorphoses

There are only a few days left to visit The Museum of Modern Art’s revolutionary exhibition on Paul Gauguin, Gauguin: Metamorphoses. The exhibit showcases 170 of Gauguin’s works including only 11 paintings and focusing on his lesser-known woodcut prints and transfer drawings as well as his ceramics and woodcarvings.

Gauguin: Metamorphoses sheds light on a different side of the artist and his techniques.  Included in the exhibition are some of his more elegant drawings, including a piece borrowed from France, Studies of Arms, Legs, and a Head, a study piece of Gauguin’s.  Examples of his African totems can be viewed as well.

When you think of Gauguin one often recalls his bold Tahitian paintings however, Gauguin: Metamorphoses draws attention to a lesser-known side of Gauguin, his dark and somewhat bizarre works on paper.  These drawings were innovative and daring for his time and acted as a precursor for art in the next century.

To a greater extent than any of the post-impressionists, Gauguin worked a scene through a variety of media.  His prints are heavy with gloom which his paintings and drawings evade.  Gauguin’s woodcuts, lithographs, monotypes and oil transfer drawings were frequently used to rework a painting to a darker purpose.  For example, consider Gauguin’s Spirit of the Dead Watching, an oil painting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, it depicts a woman lying stretched out on a bed. Gauguin gives a different impression of the scene in his woodcut of her balled up in the fetal position.  When making the print, Gauguin filled the block with so much ink it blurred any features of the woman creating an even darker scene.

Gauguin: Metamorphoses will run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City through June 8, 2014.  For more information about the exhibition visit the official exhibition page.

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