In preparation for the exhibition ‘Gauguin & Laval in Martinique’, which will go on display at the museum in autumn 2018, prominent Gauguin experts met for a day of exchanging ideas. Here you can read more about this expert meeting.
In 1887, Paul Gauguin and Charles Laval spent several months in Martinique. This relatively short but extremely significant period heavily influenced their work. In preparation for this exhibition – the first of its kind to focus on the subject – curators from the Van Gogh Museum spent a day exchanging ideas with more than a dozen prominent Gauguin experts from all over the world. The aim of the meeting was to jointly chart a course for the preliminary research in advance of the exhibition.
The day’s programme was extremely varied. Participants discussed broader cultural-historical themes, such as the French colonial context within which the trip took place, but the individual artworks and how they are connected also came up for discussion. The factors that potentially played a role in Gauguin and Laval’s decision to depart for the Caribbean were addressed in detail. Intriguing ideas were also introduced regarding how the Martinique period influenced Gauguin’s later work, and regarding his other trips to exotic climes (such as Tahiti). Interesting connections were made between Gauguin’s painted and ceramic work, while Laval’s influence on Gauguin (and vice versa) was also examined.
It was an extremely rousing and inspirational day, during which ideas about Gauguin and Laval were openly and spontaneously exchanged. The participants also outlined themes still to be investigated. The extensive expertise that the Gauguin experts at the meeting shared with the Van Gogh Museum has resulted in numerous new insights. It is now up to the museum’s curators to realise a fine, balanced exhibition offering plenty of fresh insights into this important period.
We will organise a second expert meeting during the exhibition next year, with the artworks forming the backdrop. Following the two meetings and the exhibition, work will begin on a scientific publication exploring Gauguin and Laval’s time in Martinique.