One hundred and twenty years after Paul Gauguin and his comrades staged an independent exhibition in a café on the grounds of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Cleveland Institute of Art students installed their work on the walls of the café at the Cleveland Museum of Art. CIA Students: Cleveland, 2009 was a contemporary companion to the museum's exhibition Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889, which re-created Gauguin's show at Monsieur Volpini's Café des Arts. Though separated by more than a century, these alternative café exhibitions shared similar aims, providing emerging artists with much-needed exposure and announcing the art of a new generation.
The exhibition began in the front of the museum café with a series of prints and culminated at the back of the café with ten site-specific installations, chosen through a juried proposal process. These works expressed the CIA student-artists' fresh, contemporary responses to Gauguin's 1889 café show. They further reflected the lively collaborative spirit shared through this project by students, faculty, and staff at CIA and CMA.