Jarry derided the use of language to describe visual art, even as an art critic. The exhibition of Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings in Paris in 1893, however, inspired Jarry to write poems about three of the works. Profuse revisions to this draft capture his early attempts to transpose personal impressions of the artist’s exotic, fantastic worlds into subjective visions. Jarry presumably finished the poems in 1894 while spending time with Gauguin in Pont-Aven. They were recorded in a blank book the painter had conceived as “neutral ground” where his friends’ literary and visual art could meet. It was a model Jarry would apply to his own magazine projects, which he initiated later that year.
Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Autograph manuscript of three poems “after and for” Paul Gauguin, ca. 1893–94. The Morgan Library & Museum, purchased for the Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection as the gift of the Heineman Foundation, 2019. MA 22740.