Vanishing Paradise: Art and Exoticism in Colonial Tahiti

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9780520271739: Vanishing Paradise: Art and Exoticism in Colonial Tahiti
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In the late nineteenth century Tahiti embodied Western ideas of an earthly Paradise, a primitive utopia distant geographically and culturally from the Gilded Age or Belle Epoque. Stimulated by fin de siècle longings for the exotic, a few adventurous artists sought out this Eden on the South Seas―but what they found did not always live up to the Eden of their imagination. Bringing three of these figures together in comparative perspective for the first time, Vanishing Paradise offers a fresh take on the modernist primitivism of the French painter Paul Gauguin, the nostalgic exoticism of the American John LaFarge, and the elite tourism of the American writer Henry Adams. Drawing on archives throughout Europe, America, and the South Pacific, Childs explores how these artists, lured by romantic ideas about travel and exploration, wrestled with the elusiveness of paradise and portrayed colonial Tahiti in ways both mythic and modern.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Vanishing Paradise provides a rich overview of the Tahitian experience of three different creative talents... it captures the flavor of the time and place with new subtlety and breadth that gives the reader a much more balanced and convincing understanding of what Tahiti was really like in the last decades of the nineteenth century."―June Hargrove, author of The Statues of Paris: An Open-Air Pantheon

"A major contribution to modernism studies, this book focuses more on a place and the power of its myths in Euro-American consciousness than on the artistic personalities that intersect with it. The unlikely combination of figures―Paul Gauguin, Henry Adams, and John La Farge―is a brilliant aspect of the book. By bringing them together within months of each other in Tahiti, she reveals connections between Europe and America that put these figures into one world, at one time, helping us grasp these intersections as important and related. The result is an outstanding and persuasive treatment of the way myths frame experience."―Patricia Leighten, author of The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-Guerre Paris

"Childs's thorough and sophisticated understanding of anthropological theory, combined with the richly documented accounts of Tahitian history and culture, make Vanishing Paradise essential reading for scholars of late nineteenth-century French and American art."―John House, Professor Emeritus, Courtauld Institute of Art

About the Author:

Elizabeth C. Childs is Etta and Mark Steinberg Professor of Art History and Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Washington University.

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In the late nineteenth century Tahiti embodied Western ideas of an earthly Paradise, a primitive utopia distant geographically and culturally from the Gilded Age or Belle Epoque. Stimulated by fin de siecle longings for the exotic, a few adventurous artists sought out this Eden on the South Seas - but what they found did not always live up to the Eden of their imagination. Bringing three of these figures together in comparative perspective for the first time, "Vanishing Paradise" offers a fresh take on the modernist primitivism of the French painter Paul Gauguin, the nostalgic exoticism of the American John LaFarge, and the elite tourism of the American writer Henry Adams. Drawing on archives throughout Europe, America, and the South Pacific, Childs explores how these artists, lured by romantic ideas about travel and exploration, wrestled with the elusiveness of paradise and portrayed colonial Tahiti in ways both mythic and modern. Seller Inventory # AAH9780520271739

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