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Manao Tupapau (The Spirit of the Dead Watching)

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Manao Tupapau (The Spirit of the Dead Watching)

19th Century
10 3/8 in. x 16 3/4 in. (26.35 cm x 42.55 cm)

Paul Gauguin, French, (1848–1903)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: Europe, France
Medium and Support: Woodcut and wood engraving on paper, printing by Pola Gauguin
Credit Line: Museum Purchase, Susan L. Mills Fund
Accession Number: 1941.153
Paul Gauguin was a Post-Impressionist artist whose aesthetic style and subject matter influenced many artistic movements, such as Expressionism. Like Expressionist artists, Gauguin was very interested in Primitivism, a belief in the value of what is simple and unsophisticated expressed as a philosophy of life or through art or literature. Artists used Primitivism to look into the past to express feelings of their present. Gauguin’s interest in Primitivism is what drove him to travel and live in Tahiti, where this and other important works were created in his later career. Gauguin’s work in Tahiti was controversial, because he appropriated the local Indigenous culture through his images. This image shows a young female huddled in a fetal position, being watched by a spirit in the background. The uncomfortable setting gives off a sense of anxiety, such as one might feel while being watched by the unknown.

--Savanna Ames, December 2017

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Image Dimensions: 8 in. x 14 in. (20.32 cm x 35.56 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 24 in. (50.8 cm x 60.96 cm)
  • Sheet Dimensions: 10 3/8 x 16 3/4 in. (26.35 x 42.55 cm)

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:

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