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Gauguin @ MOMA

One of the things that has impressed me most about Paul Gauguin as an artist was his exploration of a variety of media. In addition to his paintings he used woodcuts, lithography, carving, and ceramics, making each medium his own personal invention. In a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, Gauguin: Metamorphoses, visitors get to see Gauguin as just as revolutionary in printmaking and wood carving as he was in his paintings.

Traditional lithography in Gauguin's time was produced on limestone slabs; however, he chose zinc plates, zincographs, which allowed him to play with unconventional shapes for his compositions. The suite of eleven from the Volpini series are also printed on bright yellow paper commonly used for commercial printing.

Anyone familiar with Gauguin's work knows of the many wood carvings he created during his two Tahitian adventures. From those carvings evolved, for me, some of his best work, his woodcut prints. The Noa Noa suite, his cycle of everyday life, love, fear, religion, and death completely changed how the woodcut would be from then on considered. From a precise engraver's medium, Gauguin exploded the block print into an artistic vehicle full of possibilities.

This wonderful gem of an exhibit runs through June 8th.

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