Paul Gauguin, Tahitian girl, Wood and mixed media, 1896.

Paul Gauguin

Tahitian Girl, 1896

Wood and mixed media
37 3/8 x 7 1/2 x 8 in. (94.9 x 19.1 x 20.3 cm.)

Like many artists of his generation, Paul Gauguin sought to move away from the rational, quasi-scientific depiction of the world embodied in Realism and Impressionism and gravitated toward the Symbolist poets, such as Jean Moréas and Stéphane Mallarmé, who wanted to escape the decadence of the modern world into an idealized realm of dreams and the interior, emotional life of the artist.

Gauguin chose to escape modern Europe after experiencing financial trouble in his native France, setting his sights on Tahiti following discussions with fellow artist Emile Bernard. Bernard had just finished reading the popular novel Le Mariage de Loti by Pierre Loti– a semi-autobiographical account of the romantic tryst between a European man and his Tahitian mistress. Once he arrived, Gauguin delved into ethnographic reports of Tahitian culture written by French explorers Jacques Antoine Moerenhout and Edmond de Bovis. Gauguin was fascinated by the descriptions of Tahitian religious traditions that had been lost due to acculturation. As a result, he began carving sculptures reminiscent of wooden idols and drafting a travelogue of his own, Noa Noa.

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Photo Credits

Photographer: David Heald


Lucien Martin
Family of Lucien Martin
Ronnie Caran Fine Art, New York
Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Dallas, Texas, 1987



Foundations: Sculpture and Literature

May 20 - August 13, 2017

Coinciding with the exhibition Roni Horn, the Nasher Sculpture Center’s curators have chosen works from the Nasher Collection to complement Horn’s installation and draw connections between Horn and artists of the distant and more recent past. Horn is an avid reader and frequently includes excerpts of literary texts in the subtitles of her works, as with her cast glass sculptures on view in the adjacent gallery. Literary themes appear prominently in other bodies of work too, notably in Horn’s drawings, in which the artist combines excerpts from literature with idiomatic phrases, and also in a series of aluminum sculptures in which the artist embeds the words of poet Emily Dickinson.

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Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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