Gauguin and Polynesia

Nicholas Thomas

Gauguin and Polynesia
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
United Kingdom
30 April 2024

Gauguin and Polynesia

Nicholas Thomas

The Post-Impressionist artist and writer Paul Gauguin led an extraordinary, troubled and restlessly itinerant life; he came late to painting and spent most of his last decade in the Pacific islands of Tahiti and the Marquesas, where he produced paintings loosely based on Polynesian tradition that heralded the emergence of primitivism and would exert a profound influence on modernist artists from Picasso and Matisse to Jackson Pollock.

But his art, despite its growing popularity following Gauguin's death in 1903, has provoked mixed responses: although some praise his knowledge and understanding of the Polynesian world, others are censorious, regarding elements of his work as expressions of racism, misogyny and colonial sexual exploitation, which he is seen both to have engaged in and validated through his art.

In Gauguin in Polynesia, author Nicholas Thomas retells Gauguin's story for a twenty-first-century audience, giving greater consideration to the Pacific contexts of his experience, and Pacific perspectives on his art and his legacy.

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