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Artist: Gauguin, Paul 1 of 1

Tahitian Woman and Boy, 1899

Paul Gauguin

French, 1848-1903
Oil on canvas
37-1/4 x 24-3/8 in. (94.6 x 61.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
M.1976.08.P
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

By age 43, Paul Gauguin was infusing his works with spiritual and symbolic meaning in an effort to renounce the bourgeois materialism that had reigned over France in the preceding decades. To that end, in 1891, the already famous painter left France for Tahiti, where “living means singing and loving,” and where he would remain, save for one visit home, the rest of his life. The considerably traditional composition of Tahitian Woman and Boy belies the fact that it was completed during a time of great emotional upheaval for the artist. The two figures engage the viewer directly with their placid stares, while the decorative canary yellow and acid green background seems to burst forth from the canvas. Absent are Gauguin’s less inflected swaths of color, and save for the patterned pink dress and the flower in the female sitter’s hair, any hint of a reductive exoticism is absent here. Rather, the sturdy nobility of the figures reflects a remarkably straightforward, observed reality.

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Artist: Gauguin, Paul 1 of 1