Gauguin’s Prints Are Sexy, Too

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Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903). Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit, recto. c. 1900.

French painter Paul Gauguin quit his stockbroker’s job and left his wife and five children to move to the South Pacific island of Tahiti. There, in the 1890s, he did his famous, lush paintings of local women.

Recently, he has been criticized as a chauvinist who romanticized the hard life of the natives. Now a new show at the Museum of Modern Art highlights his rarely-seen woodblock prints and woodcarvings.

WNYC's art critic Deborah Solomon says it's the best show she has ever seen at MoMA, because it shows a very powerful side of the post-impressionist artist we haven't seen before. 

"When you look at his ceramics, they look like they came out of a volcano. When you look at his woodcarvings, they look like they climbed out of a tree. The work is incredibly earthy," she said. "And for me, it really re-invented Gauguin as an artist who was desperate to articulate his vision."

Paul Gauguin, Maruru (Offerings of Gratitude) from the suite Noa Noa (Fragrant Scent). 1893-94. Woodcut. (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. Photo by Michael Agee © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts)

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Idol. 1894-95. Woodcut. (Private collection, USA)