Gauguin and the Pacific

This week, Pat Allan (World Cultures Curator, Glasgow Museums) and I took some time out from reviewing Pacific collections to meet with Pippa Stephenson who is Curator of European Art at Glasgow Museums. Pippa has been researching some woodcuts in the Glasgow collection by French artist Paul Gauguin which she is interested in displaying one day in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Pippa and Pat discuss the imagery used by Gauguin in his Tahiti woodcuts

Pippa and Pat discuss the imagery used by Gauguin in his Tahiti woodcuts


The woodcuts were created by Gauguin in the early 1890s inspired by his time living in Tahiti in 1891-3. He produced them to illustrate his book ‘Noa noa’ which was a document of his time there. ‘Noa noa’ was in fact largely fictionalised and there are multiple articles and publications available which show Gauguin’s exotic island idyll was fabricated by him, an unattainable reality that did not exist. After returning to Paris, Gauguin travelled back to French Polynesia in 1901 to Hiva Oa on the Marquesas Islands. He had by this point become disillusioned with Tahiti and it was on this island that he died in 1903. The artworks reveal this overtly exotic view Gauguin created of French Polynesia.
One of the woodcuts by Gauguin in his Tahiti series

One of the woodcuts by Gauguin in his Tahiti series