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Exoticism in Art: Picasso and Gauguin

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Published: Thu, 03 May 2018

The Exoticism in the Work of Picasso and Gauguin

  • Ask important critical questions in the text.
  • Intricately merge discussion of the two images
  • Write about two pages on each image

Introduction

Picasso and Gauguin frequently deal with the ideas and values associated with non-western culture. This dissertation looks at one manifestation of this process: what is often referred to as the ‘exotic’. This dissertation will look at what the exotic means, specifically for Picasso and Gauguin. It will examine why they were drawn to the idea of the exotic and how they made it their own. How did they imagine it would make their work more vital, vibrant or vivid?

By comparing the exotic nature of the work of Picasso and Gauguin it is possible to see the similarity inherent in their exotic ideals and ignorance of non-western culture, however they differ in relation to how their work evolves and their anarchist views. They heard about Africa through a European centred view which ….. This It will be shown that they lusted after an exotic world, and how this emerged from a limited Western society and artistic landscape. A Western society based on the reliance on the myths and colonialist ideals, shaped by the mass-media . media.

Exoticism is the allure of a culture different from the artist or viewer’s own, it is about a fascination for the aesthetics of another culture and a yearning for difference. This notion of ‘difference’ in a Western artists work represents the fantasy of escape from all forms of Western culture and academic systems of art.

Exoticism is a term derived from the location of the ‘Orient’, a term used in 19th-century France to denote the Near East and the surrounding areas of Northern Africa and Western Asia.[1] Looking at the imperialist power relation between East and West at the time,[2] the ‘exotic’ does not merely convey information but actually constructs its subject.[3] It positions the Orient, or the exotic, as the lesser half of a dichotomy – where the West holds the power and strength of being ‘normal’, the Orient becomes the ‘other’ in relation to it.

The Western artists who created exotic art had the problem not only of their own conventional understandings, but of having to represent non-Western culture and non-Western art itself for Western consumption.[4]

French symbolists coped with this by appropriating the distant object of ‘the exotic’, by describing it in a familiar language to their society.[5]

Picasso was a great exoticist although he never travelled to Africa. He could be called a sedentary Gauguin – because where Gauguin travelled himself, Picasso had the exotic nature of Eastern islands brought to him through photographs and writings, creating a type of ‘arm-chair exoticism.'[6]

Picasso drew from other works and created his own interpretations. His art has an originality of a practical order, the search for correct material is an art of imitation and distorted variations upon the original.[7] Whereas, Gauguin expands on the myth of Tahiti,[8] emphasizing the ‘exotic’ and the French preconceptions with a foreign culture. For Gauguin the myth of Tahiti would bring his aims into sharp focus. [9]

Picasso’s ‘African period’ is termed as falling between 1907-1909, however, after this period his later work was still strongly influenced by Iberian sculpture. Picasso’s work from the first two decades of the twentieth century will be the prominent focus of this debate, beginning with his first ventures into exoticism during his ‘African period’, starting from his first inspirations through African art. Matisse claimed that it was he who introduced Picasso to African art in 1906 when he purchased an African mask [10] and brought it to a dinner party at Gertrude Stein’s home, who was a good friend of Picasso’s. Several This is impossible to prove but several of Picasso’s friends such as Max Jacob vividly remembered Picasso’s connection to African art: ‘fascinated by the black idols, he had been working all night. Cubism had been born’ (seckel, 233),.[11] And and in March 1907 there is evidence that he purchased two Iberian sculptured heads, starting his what would eventually grow into an wide extensive and varied collection of African art,.[12] including a large collection of African and Oceanic sculptures and masks. In 1907 he created Les Demoiselles d’Avignon which appears to be heavily influenced by African sculpture and was possibly inspired by Picasso’s visit to the Musee de Trocadero in May or June 1907[13] which housed African masks and sculptures. [14] It is here he is said to have had a ‘revelation’ about African sculpture.[15] However, Picasso vehemently denied any African influence in his work. In the 1920s when asked if this had an influence on his work he replied “L’art negre? Connais pas!” (African art? Don’t know it!”)[16] For Picasso, African influence was as much a part of social criticism as it was for as a search for a new art.[17] He amassed a large collection of African and Oceanic sculptures and masks…

D espite his taste for exoticism from an early age , It it was not until 1891 when Gauguin first arrived in Tahiti that he finally entered his Polynesian period.,[18] despite his taste for exoticism from an early age. In Gauguin’s day, race provided the predominant intellectual and practical framework in which cultural, linguistic and psychological differences could be examined and expressed; because of its adaptability it was also an effective colonial tool for substantiating any cultural or national hierachy. Gauguin mirrored the typical Nineteenth Century French attitude of Africa; expressing a preference for difference combined with a willful ignorance of historical and cultural practices, marking it as exoticism.[19] Gauguin pursued an interest in travelling and he appeared to have a great desire for difference but until he lived in Tahiti he seemed to have relatively little interest in learning much about the foreign lands and cultures he saw. [20]

A lot of the inspiration and influence in their work, that delves into an exotic world was marred by France’s feelings on Eastern culture during this period and how they saw it as ‘primitive’. Since the arrival of the European colonial power in Africa from the fifteenth century, the islands were sites of exoticism for Europeans, where fantasies about race, sex and utopian societies could be fulfilled. [21] The artists viewed ‘utopian societies’ as being about the search for an ideal world; in terms of social, moral and political aspects. In the early 1900s there were utopian visions of a liberal movement which merged with the symbolist movement in art. Anarcho-symbolist ideas helped Picasso form an idea of himself as an artist in a European society and about the virtues of unsophisticated ‘primitive’ art.[22] The liberation was a revolutionary new struggle for a new society.[23]

The European artists’ first major source of images and information about Africa, would have come through the popular press, itself influenced by fantasy and prejudice. The European prejudice was based on the perceived threat of the minority forces to the tradition European values, coupled with the absence of positive feelings towards them.[24] Political interests also influence the press and this predated actual French contact with urban and tribal populations in Africa and were reinforced by novels and accounts by missionaries, and explorers, often accompanied by fantastic illustrations. To this were added the forced labour and fear in the two congos why??, which dominated discussion in late 1905.[25] These elements culminated in modernists minds to form both political outrage and yet essentially romanticized notions about instinct and ‘fetish’ worship. Explain?!

* Summary of each paras to be put at the end of intro. I shall begin by exploring the ‘lure’ of non-western culture for the artists, why they were inticedenticed by difference and how this influenced their work; the fantasy created by accounts of explorers and how European colonialism influenced their work. In my second chapter I shall explore why they desired sexually primitive women, how they saw them as accommodating the white male bourgeoisie and how they juxtaposed African sexuality against European bourgeois norms. I shall also explore the seemingly different sex codes of the East. In my final chapter I shall create a critical exploration as to what extent they found the exotic nature they were looking for, how it lived up to their expectations and whether it made their work more vital, vibrant and vivid. I shall also explore whether their work showed the ‘true’ nature of African culture.

Chapter 1-The Lure of the Exotic

The logic of exoticism is a cycle; the more one is immersed in a culture, the more one discovers sameness and seeks even greater difference. [26] The more Picasso and Gauguin found out about non-western society, the more enticed they became by this foreign culture, leading to it featuring predominantly in their work. The colonialism, fantasy and culture of non-western society offered new means of expression for the artists and are integral in assessing the lure of the exotic for Picasso and Gauguin. I shall also examine why they were enticed by Africa and how the accounts for explorers and knowledge of colonialism influenced them to explore Africa.

For Gauguin, Tahiti was a place in which he could fulfill his fantasies, plunging into a free and exotic culture, free from the constraints of his own French culture. He described living in Tahiti as:

‘civilisation is leaving me little by little’… ‘I have all the pleasures of a free, animal and human life. I escape from the artificial; I enter into nature.’ Gauguin wrote this shortly after coming to the island paradise.[27]

The anarchist background of Picasso meant that everything to do with Africa was charged with political meaning during this time and leant meaning to their force of Primitivism. The critic Leiris was close to Picasso, and as such strongly influenced and paralleled his thoughts on African Art. He explores the difficulties created by his own relationship as a European to non-European culture, especially Africa. Leiris, in his article ‘L’Oeil de l’ethnographe’ (The Eye of the Ethnographer) he explores the fashion for African art and the exoticism of the Africa of fiction and dreams to explore the absurdities and racial assumptions behind European negrophilia.[28] He feels that the European ideal of Africa will always be about exoticism and fantasy, the real and fantastic, confused between the contradictions of the objective and subjective.[29]

Gauguin obviously identified himself in some way with what he imagined to be a ‘savage’ life. Gauguin saw himself both as the subjugated savage and the dominating conqueror. This is significant because of the period, a time of renewed European colonialism and vigorous debate about imperial policies.[30]

Fantasy of the exotic; the traveler is constantly asking to recall the fabled exoticism of ‘primitive’ cultures. Travelers who ventured in to Africa in the early Nineteenth Century frequently returned with fantastical tales of human sacrifice, cannibalism, violence, sensuality and doom that were made much of in the French press, emphasizing the purported savagery of customs they misconstrued in accordance with their pre-conceptions.[31]

Picasso’s art represented the naïve fantasy of the ‘Other’ and was possibly based on the fantastical tales and images brought to France by travelers who had ventured into Africa. Picasso’s ‘African period’ of art took inspiration solely from art objects which came to stand in for Africa itself. There is great irony in Picasso’s work because while he was obsessed with African imagery he never travelled to the continent.[32] African objects became kinds of forces, often unspoken and unlicensed, which he needed in order to break the constraints of modernity. Africa was most useful to Picasso when it was confined to the unconscious, mediating other needs and desires while not serving as a primary faction in itself. [33] Iconography was taken from African sculpture as an artistic device for distinguishing avant-garde art, and a conceptual tool for signifying anarchy and transgression.[34] Black imagery whether drawn from popular carvings or from African carvings, suited the artist’s need for inspiration, difference and subversion.[35] In pre-war Paris, African carvings entered the art market and fuelled the avant-gardes need for new forms of expression. African carvings that reached Paris at the turn of the century were generally and collectively referred to as ‘l’art negre’ or ‘les fetishes.'[36] Europe’s avant-garde absorbed African imagery into cubism and expressionism, as part of an artist’s short-hand that stood for the exotic, authentic and spontaneous; sentiments sympathetic with their anarchist status. Expand on his anarchist status

For instance even the African forms were not painstakingly represented, the primitive was implicit in depictions of the female nude and the aggressive manner in which the model was sexualized.[37]

The French popular Press with mass illustrations such as le journal illustre, l’illustration and Le Tour de Monde and the illustrated supplements of the newspapers Le Petit Journal and Le Petit Parisien, played up to fantastical tales, as part of a successful attempt to justify the French conquest. This largely influenced Picasso’s fantasy of the exotic through its subjugated view of Africa and political fluency. The press followed the war only superficially, concentrating instead on the legendary grotesque practices of the natives. [38] what war? explain

Picasso may be seen as more greatly influenced by the French press because he never travelled to Africa, preferring to learn about it from texts and images, whereas Gauguin lived in Africa, immersing himself in the culture and seeing for himself the juxtaposition between fantasy and reality.

With primitivism Picasso crossed a geo-political frontier and imported African bodies into Western salons during the peak of colonialism. Picasso may have drawn on the dialogue of postcards whose recurrent subject matter was female nudes[39].

Anne Baldassari drew upon an inventory of Picasso’s collection of picture postcards, they included postcards of ‘alien’ people and tribal groups.

For example, Picasso possessed albumen prints (used as a photographic device in the early 1900s, it describes negatives exposed to sunlight and printed onto light sensitive albumen paper[40]) (it was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print-taken from wiki) dating from 1860-80 which included visiting card portraits of Polynesians and a series of postcards from West Africa mainly produced by Daker-based postcard publisher Edmund Frontier.[41] reword

A photo-postcard by Edmund Frontier entitled ‘Femme Malinke’ (Malinke Woman) 1906 appears to directly inspire Picasso’s ‘Female Nude with Raised Arms’ 1908. In the images the women appear to situate themselves in an almost identical pose, standing upright with their arms raised above their heads. [42] Picasso uses cubist abstraction to accentuate the features into a more ‘Africanised’ style, accentuating her womanly curves; the shape of her buttocks and thighs. He also uses strong features that appear inspired by African masks; lozenge shaped eyes and a strong jaw. The postcard evokes a tribal woman, adorned with necklaces (possibly a symbol of her tribe?)

‘Female Nude with Raised Arms’ saw Picasso’s African art emerge into a cubist style[43], the feminine body is broken into feminine abstraction, similar to Picasso’s ‘Three Women’ 1908. Picasso’s seemingly primitive endevoursendeavours carried him beyond what many of the public admired about his rose and blue period.[44] Picasso’s transition from ‘Africanism’ into cubist proper for which Cezanne seems to be the dominant model.[45] expand Picasso’s cubism is an abstracting and reorganization classical constraints and a mediated representation of art up until this time.[46] The concepts of pathological distortion or symbolic syntax such as caricature supplies promoted Picasso to undertake a re-ordering and distortion of facial features.[47]

The asymmetry of a womanswoman’s face is not normally part of any of the known mask traditions of Africa. However, the torso of the woman is quite clearly inconceivable without the precedent of non-European mask art.[48] When avant-garde artists such as Picasso began working with African sculptures, they did not make the distinction between curios and genuine ethnographic objects. They were more concerned with what the objects in their paintings would signify rather than their authenticity. [49]

Few artists appreciated the African objects; such as masks and statues for their aesthetic beauty and instead were fascinated by their crudeness of expression. Picasso in ‘Female Nude with Raised Arms’ represents the more grotesque forms of African carvings, rather than depicting her feminine beauty because of their sharp contrast with European art.[50]

Through artworks based on evoking a ‘tribal’‘ life and art which he saw as violent and degenerate, Picasso is able to implicitly reject colonialism through pointedly revealing ethnic difference.[51] Tribal life was seen as collective or primitive socialism. Everything has become capitalist and liberal Western societies have vanished in the political and cultural milieu of the twentieth century. Therefore, tribal life represented a taboo form, which Picasso was keen to accentuate.

Gauguin also drew inspiration from fabled stories and travelers, especially the traveller Moerenhaut. Gauguin read with considerable care the very detailed anthropological and historical accounts provided by Moerenhout, as well as the writings of other travelers.[52] Moerenhaut had clearly benefited from a good, classical French education[53] and found the lure of non-Western culture within the differences in civil law and religion which in turn inspired Gauguin to create such works as ‘There lies a temple’ (1892)

Gauguin wanted to represent the original Tahiti, as it was before colonialism, to do so he had to look in accounts of travelers, those who had been fortunate enough to have seen or heard from the mouths of the elders accounts of travelers stories of ancient times,. But but Gauguin borrowed elements of the book by Moerenhaut to reconstruct a world through the texts he had read, interlinking it with his own experience.[54]

Gauguin wrote his own account of his travels, part reality and part myth on which interpretation of a great many of his paintings can be based. In ‘There lies a Temple’ the composition reveals a conflict between reality and fiction.[55] It shows a composition based on the scene of Tahiti, with abundant vegetation rendered in green, pink-violet and orange which sets the tone; behind it runs a fence, its forms inspired by Asian models, which creates a barrier uninterrupted by openings anywhere. In the centre of the image is the sunrise, in radiant yellow, that dominates the overall composition of the painting. Gauguin, during his time in Tahiti maintained his penchant for complimentary complementary colours and still mostly applied them in an impressionist style. In Tahiti the dazzling light can produce hues that are unusual to the Western audience and therefore appear exotic with tropical intensity.[56] The inspiration for the titleeponymous temple lies in front of a mountain range at the right-hand side of the painting, a monumental stone temple figure, at the foot of which rising smoke emanates. Yet there were no temples left standing in Tahiti, no stone images of gods and no fences marked the boundaries of sacred areas.[57] It is perhaps more inspired by Moerenhaut’s book in which is described the worship of the moon goddess Hina in the form of a ten-metre high stone statue located on distant Easter Island. Gauguin’s paintings therefore, like Picasso’s, may be considered an unauthentic and inaccurate ethnological report which does not benefit future European artists-p.38. Instead it expands on the myth of Africa, not due to Gauguin’s lack of knowledge, but perhaps to expand on the lure of the exotic and fulfill the expectations of his French audience, representing the world with which outsiders associated him. The religious aspect of the painting seems deliberately falsified, in all letter to his wife he explains the title ‘here lies the temple’ by saying ‘there lies the temple, a place reserved for the cult of gods, and for human sacrifice’ (ref in text)[58]

All from gs skirt-reword and relate to temple and raised arms painting Gauguin’s use of exoticism in his work and his preference for difference combined with an almost willful cultural and historical ignorance that was extremely common in 19th century France. [59] The violence and anarchy of an old Tahiti was apparent, but Gauguin preferred to stress the gentleness and compassion of the culture. Gauguin also expressed a willful and historical ignorance of Tahiti, a typical attitude in France at the time; expressing the barbarity of native lore and traditions yet the fundamental humanity of a culture that gave rise to them.[60] Gauguin was determined to develop new themes in keeping with his new surroundings and to adapt some old ones to a new context. [61]

  • The history of the 19th Century French past is conjoined with the South Pacific; their religious beliefs, cultural and sexual? practices.

Gs skirt-p.155 The women in Gauguin’s ‘Ta Matete’, ‘The Market’ are prostitutes, posed like the figures in ancient Egyptian wall painting. The one in yellow at the right holds a cigarette between the fingers of her right hand; two others proudly display health inspection certificates as if they were the painted fans of the French society women. Such behaviour was inconsistent with order, stability, prosperity and the overall French mission civilitrice. -P.155 gs skirt-Anti-govermentalgovernmental sentiment was expressed in more thamthan just verbal form, natives flaunted laws and customs which promoted moral proprierty, physical health and industry.

Relate to a painting by Picasso.

  • Both used symbolism to enhance the viewer’s perceived idea of the debasement and cultural inferiority of another race.

Chapter 2-The Desire for a Sexually ‘Exotic’ Culture

  • Sex codes less rigidly defined-‘what! are you jealous?’
  • Concept of identity-the masculine, how Gauguin was seen as feminine.
  • Male dominance, woman as prostitutes- Olympia, poses women posed to accommodate men-comparison of les demoiselles and spirit watching
  • Caricatures of women-represent cultural ignorance?

Gauguin and Picasso desire a sexually exotic woman because they are enticed by the schemata of difference and want to project fantasies of white masculinity on to the seemingly base woman. Often ignoring the beauty of women and concentrating on the historical and cultural example of subjectivity. [62]expand They use caricatures and stereotypes of African women in their artwork, Picasso often using features of African masks as inspiration while Gauguin situates his women in a suggestive and sexually enticing manner for the viewer.

  • White male dominance Gauguin and Picasso create a conundrum of oppositions between the passivity of the black female and dominance of the white male conqueror. [63] The ‘primitive’ creates a paradox: it entices artists in the desire for an exotic nature and yet similataneouslysimultaneously repels them. The fantasy of the exotic woman is pressured to the point where often cracks start to appear and white masculinity prevails[64] crisis of masculinity-continued. P.76 expand

20.p.165. Although Gauguin sought to disparage masculine sexual impulses, in reality the dominating power of the masculine and exaggerated male sexual strength was also naturalised and secretly admired at the same time that it was condemned. Gauguin’s sympathy for, yet possessiveness over the women in his work sent a threatening message as did the depiction of dread and desire implicit in the female.

20. p.165 Although Gauguin’s texts such as Noa Noa sought to construct him as ‘savage’ rather than reveal his true self, he nevertheless exposed in such works culturally formed attitudes towards sexuality, nature and his own desires.

Gauguin and Picasso in ‘Spirit of the Dead Watching’ and ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ shows two different modes of representing woman as prostitutes, living up to mans desires. They mark a divide between the sexes: between men who can continually ask for sexual services and women who have no opportunity to dispute this. reword 22.p.598 These scenes bring up conundrums between European and other, white and black, female and male, pure and perverse and heterosexual and homosexual. (reword, taken from les dem essay)

The subjects of Picasso and Gauguin’s work are often represented in a hazardous sexual directness, which non-western culture tended to avoid. The power of this sexual primitiveness therefore makes it unclear as to whether Picasso and Gauguin intended their masculine viewer to dominate the female figures or for the figures to dominate them.

Women were posed to accommodate the viewer. The exotic nature of Picasso and Gauguin’s work merged with white masculine prejudice to create a threatening image which was at once desirable and yet hazardroushazardous in its sexual directness. Some of their paintings projectsproject the power of female sexuality onto a largely masculine culture. . Griselda Pollock; ‘Teha’mana’s body is appropriated to signify Gauguin’s desire as a white man and artist.’ [65] (put in about lack of acceptance of Gauguin’s work at the time?)

In ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ the second sex puts the male viewer at the advantage yet a moral disadvantage for men who exploit human beings. However, instead of letting her bathe in innocence the picture offers up a guilty thrill at viewing up close the ritual performed well away from the curious and censorious.[66] Similarly in ‘Spirit of the Dead Watching’ the man is put at an advantage through the cultural debasement of the women as prostitutes, exemplified through the male view of the women’s indifference to the males subjectificationobjectification.[67] In a text attributed to Gauguin a Tahitian woman is compared to a cat in her savagery and impulsive vigour.[68] ‘She asks to be raped. She is totally indifferent to any consideration you might have for her.’ ‘She lives as [if] she will never be wanting and this prevents her from being unduly calculating.'[69] (p.214) It is in the debasement of Teha’mana that he finds her the most beautiful. [70] Similarly in ‘Spirit of the Dead Watching’ the woman is in a pose where she appears to seemingly ask to be raped. This differs from ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ where the women seem sexually powerful in the poses, standing and posed facing the viewer as opposed to Spirit of the Dead watching where the woman is lying down with her back to the viewer. The sexually threatening undercurrents of Les Demoiselles is unlike ‘Spirit of the dead watching’ who appears fearful despite the sexual directness which Gauguin appropriates as an example of the cultural laxness of the society. Find a ref to back this up.

‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ lends force the power of exotic power through sexual directness. Rubin draws attention to the mesmerizing mesmerising and even terrifying caricatures expand of the masks, it is a transgressive confrontation that projects a trauma, ‘something that transcends our sense of civilized experience, something ominous and monstrous.'[71] ‘While Spirit of the Dead Watching’, rather than lending force to the woman as prostitute instead depicts her with a submissive nature. ‘Les Demoiselles’ assumes the viewer to be male and heterosexual, it tells us what are desires are and marks a divide between the sexes: between men who can routinely contract for sexual services and women who have no opportunity to dispute this.[72]

Gauguin’s ‘The Spirit of the Dead Watching’ or ‘Manao Tupapau’ as Gauguin refferedreferred to it, is a tropical version of the Olympia. The title ‘Manao Tupapau’ means ‘Thought or Belief and the Specter’ and can have two meanings: either she is thinking of the specter or the specter is thinking of her.[73] In itthe picture, the figure stares with open eyes at the viewer while the ubiquitous figure of the dead keeps watch.[74] The enduring theme of the young, nude Maori girl who has a great fear of the hooded spirit of the dead.[75]

p117-gs skirt- Gauguin compares women to animals ‘All indeed wish to be ‘taken’, brutally taken, without a single word. All have the secret desire for violence because this act of authority on the part of the male leaves to the woman-will its full share of irresponsibility.’ (ref citation in book) This appeals to man’s desire of the submissive woman, for the dominating conquererconqueror. The woman lies on the bed, naked on her front, seemingly accommodating and enticing the viewer. Gauguin, perhaps to encourage and emphasize his claim that he had found ‘paradise on earth’ wanted an innate ability to love. [76]

‘Spirit of the Dead Watching,’ ‘In this position almost anything might make her look indecent, yet it is in this way I want her.’ [77] The woman represents the image of the prostitute through the flowers strewn in the background of the painting representing a type of ‘exotic’ and tropical version of Olympia in the mode of prostitute. Gauguin said of this image ‘ my‘my feeling for the decorative sense leads me to strew the background with flowers.'[78]

‘The Spirit of the Dead Watching’ conveys a new subject; ‘his savage identity to the old world’. Foster, Hal, Prosthetic Gods; Primitive Scenes, MIT Press, 2004, p.6 ,like the savage identity represented in Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. In these scenes Picasso and Gauguin challenge our conceptions of identity through the aesthetic and psychological conceptions of art and psyche challenged by colonial encounters. Sometimes these scenes bring up conundrums of European’s identification with the East, and the conundrum opposition of female and male, ; pure versus and perverse; and heterosexual and homosexual. Taken from essay on les dem!

There is no simple notion of a women as ‘pure’ or ‘peverseperverse’ as Gauguin and Picasso show women as both pure and perversewith both of these contradictory elements. With Picasso and Gauguin’s work there is no simple divide between the depiction of African women as pure and virginal, yet simultaneously images ofpotential prostitutionprostitutes. For instance, Gauguin painted his adorned mother in a darkly sensual Tahitian mode even though she was fair and fine, typically considered ‘European’ characteristics. He also used his mother as the muse for ‘exotic eve’ Eve’ (1890) And often presented Tahitian women as Virgin Marys, yet even as he depicts them as pure, he also used them as prostitutes.[79]

In ‘Spirit of the Dead Watching’ it upholds male colonial prerogatives, yet it is equally, a hybrid artwork, which undercuts the paradigm of sexuality upon which European masculinialism, depends. . The posture and anatomy of Tehamana may be seen as boyish, it is possibly an assault on European sexual nudes.

Charles Maurice a friend of Gauguin’s writes that Tehamana is depicted as an ‘androgynous little girl.p.121 sex in Tahiti in gs skirt-rewrite

There is an interesting juxtaposition in the discourse between the notion of the ‘femme fatale’ that Picasso and Gauguin often depict, and yet a ‘womanly’ vulnerability which reasserts the masculine power of the European conquererconqueror.

Gauguin introduced this conflict between womanly power and women as a ‘femme fatale’ and men as lacking in sexuasexual potency,lly lack and homoerotic.[80] On the theme of inc


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