Tag Archives: guggenheim

savage persona is right

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Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve written a solid article hating Gauguin, so here goes.

An article reviewing a 2002 Met exhibition called “Paul Gauguin in New York Collections: The Lure of the Exotic” (oy), writer Holland Cotter wrote this quaint prose:

In fact, the true subject is the artist himself. Like any monomaniac, Gauguin was in the Gauguin business, aggressively…It was a demanding job. It entailed not only creating art of extraordinary quality, but also inventing a persona with which to promote it. This entrepreneurial public role didn’t require that he be a nice guy, and he wasn’t. He declared himself a ”savage” by birth because, he said, he had South American Indian blood. (He was one-eighth Peruvian.) And he dressed the part. He grew his hair long, wore swashbuckling cloaks, home-boy hats and an expression — you see it in the self-portraits — of sly, intimidating disdain.

Home-boy hats, ha! I’m impressed at this point. It’s like you’re wanting me to just keep hating you.

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in the vanilla grove, man and horse

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Paul Gauguin created this travesty in 1891. You can pass by it at the Guggenheim.

Gauguin wanted to go to Tahiti to

“immerse [himself] in virgin nature, see no one but savages, live their life, with no other thoughts in mind but to render the way a child would . . . and to do this with nothing but the primitive means of art, the only means that are good and true.”

Ugh. What a nightmare. What’s worse about this is scholars think he looked to the Trajan Column and the gosh darn PARTHENON when painting this guy and his horse. He wanted to make the primitive accessible to a Western art audience. YEESH, what a clown.

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