Synopses & Reviews
The dazzling colors and patterns of the art of the Pacific Islands have long entranced Western audiences, including artists such as Gauguin and Picasso. The tendency has been to regard Oceanic art as "primitive", mysterious, shrouded in taboo, but Nicholas Thomas looks beyond the familiar, stunning surfaces of spears and shields, carved canoe prows and feather capes to discover the significance of art, past and present, for the people of the Pacific. He shows how each region is characterized by certain art forms and practices - among them Maori ancestral carvings, rituals of exchange and warfare in the Solomon Islands, the production of barkcloth by women in Polynesia - even as it is shaped by influences from within the Pacific and beyond. The dynamism and diversity of the art are reflected in the illustrations accompanying this revelatory text, from works that evoke the most deep-rooted customs to those that address contemporary political issues.
Oceanic art was important to the development of the modernist movement, influencing such artists as Gauguin. The tendency in the West has been to view Oceanic art as "primitive", but this book goes beyond this view to discover the meaning of art for the people of the Pacific.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 209-210) and index.