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Paul Gauguin Wreaks Havoc

A brilliant modernist painter,

A colonialist, pedophile and misogynist,

A post-gender artist

Van Gogh Protestant

Depending on the ideological allegiance of the scholar, interpretations of Paul Gauguin's work lead to contradictory conclusions.

1. A Modernist genius

A Vision after the Sermon

For Modernist historians, including the influential Clement Greenberg, Paul Gauguin was a forerunner of abstraction. An original, a savage, a martyr, he fulfilled all the psychological requirements of the avant-garde artist. His treatment of flat forms, his liberation from local colour and his perspectival distortions have placed him in the pantheon of Modernism.

2. The Postmodernist revision,1

Lecture féministe et postcoloniale

Gauguin est 

  • un opportuniste, copiant ses pairs sans vergogne

  • un plagiaire, piratant les arts polynésiens

  • un colon, misogyne et pédophile  qui abuse de jeunes tahitiennes et marquisiennes

Manao Tupapau, an anthropological reading


Gauguin was not insensitive to a discourse reminiscent of our feminist, post-genre, post-colonial twenty-first century through his reappraisal of Polynesian art and his criticism of the stereotype of the European woman.

3. The feminist ethnographer

Readings Griselda Pollock, Avant-garde Gambits, 1888-1893: Gender and the Color of Art History, Thames and Hudson, 1993 Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs, Seuil, 1952 Stephen F. Eisenman, Gauguin's Skirt, Thames & Hudson, 1999 Bronwen Nicholson, Roger Neich, Gauguin and Maori Art, University of Washington press, 1995

Iconographic study

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