Monday, November 1, 2010
Recreating Paradise: Gauguin’s Noa Noa Prints
In late August 1893, painter Paul Gauguin returned to Paris after spending the previous few years in Tahiti, the Polynesian paradise that propelled his art to a whole new level. Hoping to sell his “uncivilized” works to a “civilized” audience, Gauguin realized that he had to first explain the allure and power of that paradise to prospective purchasers. Thus, the idea for Noa Noa (“fragrant scent” in Tahitian), Gauguin’s book of those experiences, was born, along with a series of woodblock prints he designed to illustrate it. Alas, Gauguin never got to see his work published, but the prints themselves took on a whole new life, which continues today in the Princeton University Art Museum’s exhibition, Gauguin's Paradise Remembered: The Noa Noa Prints. In this startling exhibition, we see that Gauguin’s prints portray a paradise more of the mind than of his actual experience. The island eden Gauguin hoped to enter, in fact, may never have existed—an idea that his prints, reproductions of a reality that was never truly real, emphasize through their very nature. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Recreating Paradise."
[Many thanks to the Princeton University Art Museum for providing me with a review copy of Gauguin's Paradise Remembered: The Noa Noa Prints (published by Yale University Press), the catalogue to the exhibition running through January 2, 2011.]