Gauguin: Maker of Myth
February 27 – June 5, 2011
East Building Upper Level

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: Paul Gauguin's sumptuous, colorful images of Brittany and the islands of the South Seas are some of the most appealing paintings in modern art. They will be represented among nearly 120 works by Gauguin in the first major look at the artist's oeuvre in the United States since the blockbuster National Gallery of Art retrospective of 1988–1989, The Art of Paul Gauguin.

Organized by Tate Modern, London, in association with the Gallery, Gauguin: Maker of Myth brings together self-portraits, genre pictures, still lifes, and landscapes from throughout the artist's career. It includes not only oil paintings but also pastels, prints, drawings, sculpture, and decorated functional objects. Organized thematically, the exhibition examines Gauguin's use of religious and mythological symbols to tell stories, reinventing or appropriating narratives and myths drawn both from his European cultural heritage and from Maori legend.

Gauguin (1848–1903) was the ultimate global traveler, sailing in the South Pacific and living in Peru, Paris, Martinique, and Tahiti, among other places. The exhibition features many of his iconic paintings, on loan from around the world—ranging from scenes of religious life near the artist's colony of Pont-Aven in Brittany to the colorful, exotic canvases depicting the people and the tropical flora and fauna of the islands of French Polynesia, where he moved to escape European civilization. In Tahiti, he immersed himself in its fast-disappearing Maori culture to invest his art with deeper meaning, ritual, and myth, a fusion that continues to mesmerize audiences worldwide.

Organization: Organized by Tate Modern, London, in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsor: Bank of America is proud to be the global sponsor. The Marshall B. Coyne Foundation is a generous supporter through the Fund for the International Exchange of Art. Additional support provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Image: Paul Gauguin, Fatata te Miti (By the Sea), 1892, oil on canvas, Chester Dale Collection, 1963.10.149

Related Artists

Gauguin, Paul
, 1848 - 1903

Audio and Video

Gauguin: Maker of Myth
Video, Released: April 28, 2015, (30:00 minutes)
Introduction to the Exhibition—Gauguin: Maker of Myth
Audio, Released: May 31, 2011, (44:07 minutes)
Gauguin: Maker of Myth, Part 4
Video, Released: March 29, 2011, (8:19 minutes)
Gauguin: Maker of Myth, Part 3
Video, Released: March 22, 2011, (7:54 minutes)
Gauguin: Maker of Myth, Part 2
Video, Released: March 15, 2011, (9:22 minutes)
Gauguin: Maker of Myth, Part 1
Video, Released: March 8, 2011, (5:56 minutes)
Gauguin: Maker of Myth
Audio, Released: March 1, 2011, (20:09 minutes)
Press Event: Gauguin: Maker of Myth
Audio, Released: February 22, 2011, (28:07 minutes)