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Gaugin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise

On first glance, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) website for Gaugin and Polynesia appears to be for those who can visit in person, but once located, the Explore the Art link (on the far right) takes virtual visitors to a wealth of online exhibition content. There are five chronological chapters, covering the timeline of Gaugin's journeys to Tahiti and other tropical islands. For each chapter, there are curatorial videos, image galleries, and maps. For example, "Chapter 3, 1891 - 1893, Gaugin Leaves France for Tahiti," begins with two SAM curators and an affiliated academic discussing an ironic aspect of Gaugin's travels. Gaugin left France seeking unspoiled nature, but he found an established French bourgeoisie in the islands, especially in Papeete, the Tahitian capital. One of the images in the Chapter 3 image gallery, Woman with a Flower (1891) illustrates this irony. The painting is composed as a traditional portrait, showing the subject, a Tahitian woman who is dressed in European style, seated in a chair with a flower in her hand, the background apparently a flowered wallpaper. Gaugin sets up the contrasts, in the curator's words, by painting this "beautiful, exotic, by European standards, face, combined with this dowdy nightgown of a dress, and then these flowers floating around her head."
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Classification
GEM Subject
Publisher
Date Issued 2012-03-30
Language
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2012-03-30
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/2012/scout-120330#8

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