Sarasota, Fla. – Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was an innovative and influential artist, known for his unconventional lifestyle, personality and longing for a more natural way of life.
A key figure in the Parisian avant-garde including Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, Gauguin rejected traditional artistic hierarchies in Europe, identified as a self-styled “savage” and traveled extensively to the South Pacific on a romantic quest for a paradisiacal land far from the ills of urban life.
Known for his bold colors and contrasts, Gauguin blended fine art and craft in a wide range of media, merging Western artistic traditions with those of rural and island cultures. Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise, on view beginning February 2019 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, will offer the rare opportunity to experience a selection of captivating works by the artist, alongside lush horticultural displays of tropical plants that inspired him in French Polynesia.
Ten original dramatic woodcuts, wood engravings and lithographs that Gauguin created on his journeys to Brittany, Martinique and Tahiti will be the centerpiece of the Museum of Botany & the Arts, along with photographs, historic maps and postcards. These works are on generous loan from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Smith College; Bates College; as well as private collectors Keith and Linda Monda (Sarasota) and Dennis Powers (New York). The exhibit will provide a comprehensive focus on Gauguin’s woodcuts and his connection with nature, a viewpoint on Gauguin that has never been exhibited in a natural setting before.
The exhibition is curated by Carol Ockman, Ph.D., Curator-at-Large for Selby Gardens and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art at Williams College. Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise will be on view exclusively at Selby Gardens from Feb. 10 through June 30, 2019.
“Gauguin, in his work and his travels, was constantly searching for a place that was beyond the reach of industrialization,” said Ockman. “No matter how many ‘exotic’ locales he visited, he never found it. This exhibition locates his visions of a utopian paradise in both the natural environments and cultural perceptions that shaped it.”
Living displays throughout the gardens and in the glass house conservatory will showcase rare and spectacular plants from the tropical regions that figure prominently in his repertoire. More importantly these vignettes will draw the visitor in, making them feel as if they are in the South Pacific during the time of Gauguin’s travels. Elements that will be used in the vignettes and throughout the Gardens will include artfully-placed canoes filled with tropical plants, planted native masks and coconut installations; patterned tapa-cloths; bamboo features; Tahitian marae totems and Marquesas totems surrounded by masses of sumptuous flowers.
Among the plants from the Selby Gardens’ collection to be featured are banana and coconut trees, as well as a variety of palm, taro and breadfruit trees along with the Gardens’ collections of orchids and bromeliads.
Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise is the third installment of the ongoing, record-breaking Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series at Selby Gardens, which explores the rich connections between nature and the arts.
“After successfully showcasing works by Warhol and Chagall in our gardens over the past two years, we are delighted to continue our exhibition series focusing on a rarely explored aspect of Paul Gauguin—his connection to nature,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and chief executive officer of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. “He is a fascinating and challenging historical figure, and we are excited to place his work in this new context and innovative setting.”
Admission to Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise is included with all-access admission to Selby Gardens: $25 adults; $15 children 4-17; free for members.
Cultural performances in partnership with the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast; Sarasota Opera; The Sarasota Ballet; Florida Studio Theater; and Sarasota Orchestra have been planned in conjunction with the exhibition. Each evening performance will include full access to the exhibit, hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.
In addition, family-themed events as part of Family Saturdays in Paradise will be held monthly, along with after-hours celebrations, lectures and classes in painting, photography and horticultural display. A full schedule of events will be available shortly at www.selby.org
Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise receives support from lead sponsors the Amicus Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, along with major sponsors Gerri Aaron, Maryann and James Armour, Better-Gro, BMO Private Bank, Doris M. Carter Family Foundation, Ed and Betsy Cohen/Arête Foundation, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Ernest R. Kretzmer, Keith and Linda Monda, Northern Trust, Total Wine & More and Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen. Supporting sponsors are Bank of America, Beverly and Bob Bartner, Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Linnie E. Dalbeck Memorial Foundation, Dart Foundation, Doris M. Fletcher Foundation; Drs. Andrew and Judith Economos, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Marcy and Michael Klein, Katherine and Frank Martucci, Harry Sudakoff Foundation and The Woman’s Exchange. Additional sponsor support comes from Alliance Franҫaise de Sarasota, Teri A Hansen, Maria and Allen Heise, Charlotte and Charles Perret, Jennifer and Robert Rominiecki and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.
ABOUT SELBY GARDENS
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of tropical epiphytic plant species, including many orchids, bromeliads and gesneriads, with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. For more information, please visit www.selby.org. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas, regular admission $20 (ages 18 and up), ages 4-17 $10, Members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or selby.org. Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.
ABOUT PAUL GAUGUIN
As a young boy, Paris-born Paul Gauguin lived with his mother’s Peruvian family in Lima, where the exuberant landscapes and indigenous peoples left a lasting impression on him. While serving in the merchant marine and as a stockbroker, he was as an occasional, self-taught painter, but soon met and began painting with other more established artists such as studying under Camille Pissaro. Even as he struggled to make a living as an artist in Paris, his techniques began to evolve away from those of the Impressionists, and he sought inspiration in the South of France. For a memorable year (it was actually about 3 months) he lived with Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, and was present when Van Gogh sliced his own ear with a razor. Though he married in 1873, he would eventually leave his family behind in Europe to seek a more “primitive” way of life. Such a life eluded him, even as he traveled to the Caribbean, the Americas and ultimately, to the islands of French Polynesia, where he died in 1903.