Gauguin as Printmaker: The Volpini Suite
With this exhibition, the IMA welcomes a critically important addition to its Pont-Aven School collection, a complete set of Paul Gauguin's famed Volpini prints. The portfolio of 11 zincographs printed on canary yellow paper was nicknamed ‘Volpini’ after the owner of the Café des Arts in Paris, where the prints were presented during the summer of 1889. The occasion marked the first time that the Pont-Aven School paintings and prints of Gauguin and his colleagues were publicly exhibited. The Volpini Suite, one of the most important printmaking projects of 19th-century France, was Gauguin's first attempt at printmaking, and the prints reveal his rapid mastery of graphic techniques. The zincographs were created at a pivotal point in Gauguin's career, just a few months after the summer in Pont-Aven, when he developed the approach that characterizes his mature work. The images represent Gauguin's thematic interests as well as his travels to Brittany, Arles, and Martinique, and their subjects, motifs, and style offer fascinating points of comparisons to the work Gauguin would create during the rest of his life.
On the occasion of the IMA’s acquisition and exhibition of the Volpini Suite, Dr. Heather Lemonedes, Curator of Drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art, presented a lecture on March 10 in The Toby. In her talk (linked below), Lemonedes discusses the connections between the iconography in the Volpini Suite and Gauguin’s work in other media, his artistic process, his choice of materials—and the mysterious identity of the professional printer who executed the prints.