Selby Gardens to Explore Gauguin’s Botanical Paradise in Tropical Exhibition Opening February 2019

April 26, 2018

Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise will explore the botanical world the artist encountered throughout his life in the 19th Century and feature original artwork by the artist along with exotic horticultural displays.



SARASOTA, Fla., APRIL 25, 2018 – Paul Gauguin left an indelible mark on the post-Impressionist art world during the latter part of the 19th Century. While his art and journeys are constantly reexamined through modern cultural lenses, the deep impact of botanical imagery in his work cannot be denied.

Beginning in February 2019, an exhibition at Selby Gardens will highlight the essential role of botanicals in achieving the artist’s vision of the savage, primitive and exotic. Together with lush displays of tropical plants in the conservatory and gardens, Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise will feature dramatic woodcuts and rarely seen works in other mediums by the artist. The imagined journey and focused art exhibition will be on display Feb. 10 through June 2019.

Paul Gauguin, French, 1848–1903
Nave Nave Fenua (Delectable Earth)
Wood engraving and woodcut, no. 73, 1894–95
The Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art in the Israel Museum
H: 405 mm; W: 265 mm

The hand-carved woodcuttings by Gauguin made during his encounters in  Polynesia serve as inspiration for the third iteration of the Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the connections between nature and fine arts. The works, on loan from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, are from the mid-1890s, a time when Gauguin lived in French Polynesia, primarily the island of Tahiti. Nave Nave Fenua (Delectable Earth), Manao Tupapau (The Spirit of the Dead Watching) and The Rape of Europa will be joined by The Woman with Figs, courtesy of Sarasota collectors Keith and Linda Monda. Additional works will be announced in the coming months.

Living displays throughout the grounds and in the glass house conservatory will showcase rare and stunning plants from the tropics whose lore influenced Gauguin’s worldwide travel experiences and are featured prominently in his vast repertoire.

“Gauguin can be examined from many vantage points, and here at Selby Gardens we are excited to focus on the flora in his work,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “While he wandered, Gauguin used the lush landscapes of foreign lands to anchor himself in the reality of where he existed at that moment, connecting himself and the people he painted to the landscapes in which they lived.”

This exhibition follows the previous two record-breaking shows at Selby Gardens: Warhol: Flowers in the Factory (on view through June 30, 2018)  and Marc Chagall, Flowers and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams (2017). Dr. Carol Ockman, Curator at Large for Selby Gardens and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History at Williams College, returns to curate the 2019 exhibition.

As a young boy, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) lived with his mother’s Peruvian family in Lima, a land whose exuberant landscapes and indigenous peoples left a lasting impression on Gauguin, Ockman said. Throughout his life, Gauguin was fascinated by a vision of a primitive paradise, and he was a self-proclaimed “savage.” In 1891 Gauguin received funding from France’s Ministry of Public Education and Fine Arts to travel to Tahiti and capture in artworks life there. He had earlier journeyed to Martinique, another French colony, in search of the exotic, and even earlier in life attempted to establish a simpler, artistic community among the wild landscapes in the French province of Brittany.

In his search for an unspoiled life, Gauguin was disappointed to find that the islanders had already had extensive contact with Westerners,” Ockman said. “Notwithstanding, he has left us an indelible vision of the tropical paradise inspired as much by imagination as experience.”

The Selby Gardens series offers a direct connection to one of the original purposes of the Christy Payne Mansion, which houses the Museum of Botany & the Arts at Selby Gardens. Founded in 1979, the museum displays major fine arts exhibitions and relates them to nature and the botanical collections in the gardens.

Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise receives support from Lead Sponsors the Amicus Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, along with Major Sponsors Gerri Aaron, Better-Gro, BMO Private Bank, Ed and Betsy Cohen/Arête Foundation, Ernest R. Kretzmer, Keith and Linda Monda, Northern Trust and Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen. Supporting Sponsors are the Linnie E. Dalbeck Memorial Foundation, Dart Foundation, Drs. Andrew and Judith Economos, Marcy and Michael Klein, Katherine and Frank Martucci and The Woman’s Exchange. Additional sponsor support comes from Teri A Hansen, Maria and Allen Heise, Jennifer and Robert Rominiecki and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Accompanying cultural performances that celebrate the spirit of Gauguin’s Voyage to Paradise are planned throughout the exhibition. This includes partnerships with Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Opera and the Sarasota Orchestra. Family-themed events will also be held monthly, along with after-hours evening celebrations, lectures and classes in painting, photography and horticultural display. A full schedule of events will be provided in late 2018 at

Since opening to the public in 1975, Selby Gardens has been internationally recognized for its focus as the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display of epiphytes.


Tags: botanical art, Gauguin, marie selby botanical gardens, Tahiti