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Exhibition at Fondation Beyeler brings together over fifty masterpieces by Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin, Vision of the sermon, 1888. Oil on canvas, 72.2 x 91 cm. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

BASEL.- With Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), the Fondation Beyeler presents one of the most important and fascinating artists in history. As one of the great European cultural highlights in the year 2015, the exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler brings together over fifty masterpieces by Gauguin from leading international museums and private collections.

This is the most dazzling exhibition of masterpieces by this exceptional, groundbreaking French artist that has been held in Switzerland for sixty years; the last major retrospective in neighbouring countries dates back around ten years. Over six years in the making, the show is the most elaborate exhibition project in the Fondation Beyeler’s history. The museum is consequently expecting a record number of visitors.

The exhibition features Gauguin’s multifaceted self-portraits as well as the visionary, spiritual paintings from his time in Brittany, but it mainly focuses on the world-famous paintings he created in Tahiti. In them, the artist celebrates his ideal of an unspoilt exotic world, harmoniously combining nature and culture, mysticism and eroticism, dream and reality.

In addition to paintings, the exhibition includes a selection of Gauguin’s enigmatic sculptures that evoke the art of the South Seas that had by then already largely vanished.

There is no art museum in the world exclusively devoted to Gauguin’s work, so the precious loans come from 13 countries: Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Great Britain (England and Scotland), Denmark, Hungary, Norway, the Czech Republic, Russia, the Unites States and Canada.

Works are being loaned by the most important Gauguin collections in the world, including prestigious institutions such as the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Brussels; the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Gemäldegalerie Neuer Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden; the WallrafRichartz-Museum, Cologne; the Tate in London; the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery in Prague. In particular, the Fondation Beyeler has succeeded in securing for the exhibition a group of Gauguin’s works from the legendary Russian collections of the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

“Paul Gauguin is an incredibly fascinating personality both as an artist and as a human being. We are thrilled that we can bring together his masterpieces from all over the world and show them in Basel. Even for the Fondation Beyeler, with its international reputation for high-quality exhibitions, this is a sensation” says Sam Keller, Director of the Museum.

Gauguin’s remarkable creations tell of his quest for a lost paradise on earth, of his dramatic history as an artist who moved between different cultures during a life marked by passion and adventure.

No artist travelled as far and as adventurously in search of himself and a new kind of art as did Paul Gauguin. As a sailor in the merchant navy who travelled the world following his childhood in Peru, as a stockbroker and Bohemian in late 19th century Paris, as the friend and supporter of the Impressionists, as a member of the artists’ commune in Pont-Aven in Brittany, as Van Gogh’s housemate in Arles, with his unquenchable yearning for an island of the blessed, which he hoped to find in Tahiti and as a hermit on the Marquesas Islands, Gauguin became one of the first modern nomads and art’s first dropout critical of civilisation. He endowed modern art with a new kind of sensuousness, exoticism, naturalness, and freedom. Many of his most beautiful masterpieces from all over the world are exhibited in Basel.

In the words of Guy Morin, the President of the Executive Council of the Canton Basel-Stadt: “Paul Gauguin is one of the truly great artists! That his legendary masterpieces will [soon] be on show at the Fondation Beyeler is a very special event for people in Basel and the surrounding region. Such a spectacular exhibition also attests to Basel’s status as a leading art centre. Its reputation as a magnet for art has a long tradition of being supported by the passion and enthusiasm of its citizens. The Fondation Beyeler’s outstanding exhibition programme has for years contributed to perpetuating this tradition on a world level. I am particularly looking forward to seeing the originals of Paul Gauguin’s masterpieces from Brittany and Tahiti and believe that this will be an unforgettable art experience for many people.”

For his part, Daniel Egloff, the Director of Basel Tourism, declares: “We are delighted that this exceptional exhibition is being staged at the Fondation Beyeler, because such blockbuster shows promote Basel’s reputation as Switzerland’s cultural capital. We are, moreover, convinced that the exhibition will attract many tourists.”

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February 9, 2015

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