A face-to-face meeting with the most expensive painting of all times? You can, at the Fondation Beyeler, be it under the watchful eye of a security guard. Don’t wait too long to drop by, though. Chances are the artwork will enter the private collection of a royal highness in Qatar (with an expected price tag of around 300 million euros, they say). It will no longer be easy to go and (re)admire the work there…

This Gauguin exhibition, which offers a limited yet very high-quality choice of works, could well be the last one. If the insurance premiums match the new record prices, it will become impossible to finance this type of exhibition. The big Picasso retrospective exhibitions have disappeared for the same reason.

Quand te maries-tu ? (When will you marry?), painted in 1892 during Gauguin’s first journey to Tahiti, is a very expressive and colourful work. It is accompanied by Quelles Nouvelles ? (What news?) and Eh Quoi ! Tu es jalouse ? (What! Are you jealous?) -– all three together forming a series centred around two young women. These latter two paintings belong to the museums of Dresden and Moscow and cannot be sold, at present (OK for dans l’état actuel des choses?).

Gauguin hoped to discover a paradise in these far-away islands. But he was too late. Moreover, the works that he brought back to Europe hardly had any success. The exhibition lets us follow the evolution of the artist, specifically his contacts with the Van Gogh brothers – first Theo, as an art merchant, and then Vincent. The exhibition also refers to the heated fight between Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. Yet, Gauguin kept hoping he’d open an art academy with Vincent, in Antwerp!

Besides the large paintings, the exhibition also features a selection of ceramics and sculptures by Gauguin, which are less known. There are no graphical works, but, in a resource room, you can browse, digitally, through Noa Noa, his illustrated biography.

The exhibition ends in a room filled with traditional sculptures from the islands. A bit further you find works by Van Gogh, Cézanne, etc. – an ideal way of comparing the works, which illustrates the richness of this marvellous collection.

Paul Gauguin
Fondation Beyeler
Riehen/Bâle
Until 28 June
www.fondationbeyeler.ch  

Paul Gauguin, Contes Barbares, 1902, Photo: © Museum Folkwang, Essen

Paul Gauguin, Contes Barbares, 1902, Photo © Museum Folkwang, Essen

Paul Gauguin, D’où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?, 1897/98, Photo : © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Paul Gauguin, D’où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?, 1897/98, Photo © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Paul Gauguin, Nafea faa ipoipo (Quand te maries-tu ?)", 1892, Kunstmuseum Basel

Paul Gauguin, Nafea faa ipoipo (Quand te maries-tu ?)”, 1892, Kunstmuseum Baselguin

 

Paul Gauguin, Aha oe feii?, 1892, © Musée d’État des Beaux-Arts Pouchkine, Moscou

Paul Gauguin, Aha oe feii?, 1892 © Musée d’État des Beaux-Arts Pouchkine, Moscou

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