1889, Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903)
zincograph in black on yellow wove paper,
49.8 cm x 64.8 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
This group of ten prints by the French artist Paul Gauguin takes its name from a certain Monsieur Volpini, owner of the Café des Arts at the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris. Young avant-garde artists were unable to show their work at the Expo’s official art show, so Gauguin and his friends organized an alternative exhibition at Volpini’s café. It was here that he first showed this series of prints.
The themes are loosely based on paintings Gauguin had produced in the previous years in Martinique, Brittany and Arles. The prints were a means, in other words, of publicizing his painted work. Theo van Gogh, who promoted Gauguin as an art dealer, knew that there was a demand for prints of paintings. Precise reproductions were inappropriate, however, for an experimental and innovative artist like Gauguin, so he produced these free interpretations instead, which were appreciated as works of art in their own right.
They were printed on bright yellow paper in a limited run. Although Gauguin intended them as a group, they were sold individually, which makes the Van Gogh Museum unusual in owning a complete series. Even the original cover, hand-coloured by the artist himself is still present.