Paul Gauguin by Professor Nancy Mowll Mathews
An Erotic Life

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Synopsis

In this penetrating and daring biography of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Nancy Mowll Mathews traces the themes of sex and violence through the artist's life, from the near-murderous quarrels of his grandparents, to his abusive treatment of his wife, to his sexual encounters in French Polynesia in the 1890s. The book examines how Gauguin used these complex themes in his art and writings and how he carefully presented his erotic life in the autobiographical treatises Noa Noa (1893) and Avant et Apres (1903). The central drama of Gauguin's adulthood, his marriage to Mette Gad Gauguin, is assessed in detail, and with the inclusion of some of Mette's previously unpublished letters, both sides of the Gauguin marriage are presented for the first time. Mathews also provides fascinating new insights into understanding Gauguin's relationships with men and women and the roles that sexuality and aggression played in shaping his art. She also illuminates his homosocial, if not homoerotic, relationships with Vincent van Gogh, Emile Schuffenecker, and Charles Filiger. Gauguin's genius resided not only in his forging of new artistic paths, Mathews concludes, but in his ability to bring his sexual fantasies alive for a large audience.
 

About Professor Nancy Mowll Mathews

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NANCY MOWLL MATHEWS is the Eugenie Prendergast Senior Curator of neneteeneth and twentieth century art at the Williams College Museum of Art and author of the standard biography of Cassatt, Mary Cassatt: A Life, (1998); SARAH BERTALAN is an independent conservator of works on paper and an editor/compier of the Paper Conservation Catalogue; MARC ROSEN is proprietor of Marc Rosen Fine Art, Ltd.
 
Published October 1, 2001 by Yale University Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Mathews (Mary Cassatt), curator of the Williams College Museum of Art, has organized notable exhibits of American painting. Given the plethora of titles about the

Sep 10 2001 | Read Full Review of Paul Gauguin: An Erotic Life

Publishers Weekly

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(Nov.) Forecast:For gender and erotic issues, Stephen Eisenman's pioneering Gauguin's Skirt (Thames & Hudson) is vastly preferable, but Mathews's book will appeal to readers in search of a serious narrative, apart from those roped in by the suggestive subtitle, who might feel suckered by the scan...

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