IN THE chain of painterly innova- tion that would come to define modernism in art, Paul Gauguin formed a key link. That in itself is a reason not to miss Gauguin in New York Collections: The Lure of the Ex- otic, an exhibit on view at the Met- ropolitan Museum of Art through October 20. While this is not a full- scale retrospective, it is the first ma- jor Gauguin show to be mounted in New York since 1959 (the last one was also at the Met). And although the show is not as well laid out as it might have been-the 119 paint- ings, drawings, prints, and sculp- tures are arranged in close proxim- ity to one another, at times a little too close for comfort-it contains examples from every phase of Gau- guin’s career and clearly reveals the many influences with which he grappled and that he sought to as- similate, often within a single paint- ing. One sees in these works the early impact of Impressionism and Cezanne; the subsequent effect of Japanese art and of the Symbolist movement, of which Gauguin be- came a recognized leader; and fi- nally the emergence of his mature style, which was at once unique, var- ied, and inspiring.
About the Author
Steven C. Munson’s contributions to COMMENTARY include “David Smith’s Vision” (May 2006) and “Inside the New MOMA” (February 2005).