The Painter and his Poets: Paul Gauguin and Interartistic Exchange

My dissertation, The Painter and his Poets: Paul Gauguin and Interartistic Exchange, argues that the meanings of Paul Gauguin’s works from his first Tahitian sojourn (1891-3) were mostly devised upon his return to France (from 1893-5) and worked out with his literary peers: Charles Morice, Alfred Jarry, and Stéphane Mallarmé. No longer an isolated genius on a heroic quest, Gauguin is portrayed as a strategic thinker in this new account. I reconsider contemporaneous poetry after Gauguin’s paintings and prints; his visual works that reference the poetry of his peers; and his co-authored, literary masterpiece Noa Noa. These offer glimpses of the ways in which Gauguin’s most sympathetic contemporaries experienced his work, and shed light on his engagements with the literary currents of his time. By examining the inter-dependencies of objects and texts and their travels between makers and recipients, we can chart the varied social relationships embedded in Gauguin’s works, and uncover historically-situated meanings that other methodologies, such as deconstruction, do little to reveal. I have presented my research primarily at international art history and comparative literature conferences, and my work has received support from the Mellon Foundation.