Two Nudes on a Tahitian Beach
French, 1848 - 1903
Oil on canvas
35 3/4 x 25 1/2 in. (90.8 x 64.8 cm)
Gift of Anna Rice Cooke, 1933 (3901)
In 1891, Paul Gauguin, seeking freedom from the material motivations and values of industrialized Europe, moved from France to Tahiti. There, he created works whose dazzling palette and simplified form were without precedent in Western art. In this depiction of two women on a shoreline, the depth and detail associated with the straightforward depiction of the physical world are suppressed in favor of brilliant tonality, bold outlines, and broad shapes that echo the flatness of the picture plane and reflect the artist's personal vision. Unfortunately, Gauguin never found the innocent paradise he had hoped for in Tahiti. Long before his arrival there, the island had seen an influx of Europeans, and Papeete, its capital, was dominated by French colonials.