In this magisterial book, Henri Dorra synthesizes more than fifty years of study to present a comprehensive examination of Paul Gauguin's symbolism. Drawing on his profound grasp of the artistic and social contexts in which Gauguin worked, Dorra provides new, complex insights into and interpretations of Gauguin's multilayered symbolism. "The Symbolism of Paul Gauguin" is lavishly illustrated with a major visual compendium of the artist's prodigious output. The highly readable narrative, based on a sophisticated understanding of Gauguin's oeuvre, offers a masterly interpretation of recurrent images and their interrelationships in the contemporaneous artistic and social context. Dorra discusses Gauguin's iconography and the artist's treatments of similar themes in various media, from prepatory drawings for paintings to related ceramics and wood carvings. He traces Gauguin's meanings in literary sources from classical mythology and the Bible to late ninetheenth-century literature. He also links the form and content of the artist's work to his unusual ancestry and upbringing.
As the final scholarly work by an internationally recognized expert on nineteenth-century French symbolism, this book provides a profound new perspective on Gauguin and his work.
Henri Dorra (1924-2002) was Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology (UC Press).