Deciphering Gauguin

What compelled Paul Gauguin to leave Paris, the center of European art, for Brittany, Tahiti, and the Marquesas Islands? How do his paintings reveal his personal quest to explore concepts of the exotic, the erotic, and the sacred? This course will examine the major works of gauguin emphasizing these three  themes, with special attention to his later Tahitian paintings. In addition, we will consider to what extent gauguin’s work was strikingly innovative in terms of subject matter (sexual themes) and style while still adhering to many 19th-century European artistic conventions. We will read his book Noa Noa (his personal experiences in Tahiti) and view some of his prints in Wesleyan’s Davison art Collection.

Gaugin, Paul. Noa Noa: the Tahitian Journal. Trans. O.F. Theis. New York: Dover Publications, 1985.

Instructor: Rhea Padis Higgins

Three Mondays:
4:30-6:00 p.m. in the Butterfield Room
November 15, 22, 29

Rhea Padis Higgins

Rhea Padis Higgins is an adjunct professor in the art history department in the College of arts and Sciences at the University of Hartford. She taught at Wesleyan in the graduate Liberal Studies Program from 1986 to 2002. her special area is 19th-century European painting, with an emphasis on post-Impressionist artists.