Vanishing Paradise: Art and Exoticism in Colonial Tahiti

Vanishing Paradise: Art and Exoticism in Colonial Tahiti

by Elizabeth C. Childs

Hardcover(First Edition)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520271739
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 05/18/2013
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.50(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Preface: Regarding Tahiti

1. Histories of an Island and an Idea: From Tahiti to New Cythera
2. Garden of Eden to Dying Paradise: The Foundational Myths of Tahiti
3. Polynesia in Paris: Paul Gauguin in Search of the Exotic at the Exposition Universelle of 1889
4. The Colonial Lens: Gauguin, Primitivism, and Photography
5. Henry Adams, Indolence, and Ethnic Tourism in Tahiti
6. John La Farge and the Sensuousness of Regret
7. Against Vanishing

Glossary of Tahitian Terms
Selected Bibliography
List of Illustrations

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