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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Paul Gauguin

The Mysterious Centre of Thought

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Paul Gauguin

The Mysterious Centre of Thought

French artist Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) once reproached the Impressionists for searching “around the eye and not at the mysterious centre of thought.” But what did he mean by this enigmatic phrase? In this innovative investigation into Gauguin’s art and thought, Dario Gamboni illuminates Gauguin’s quest for this “mysterious centre” and offers a fresh look at the artist’s output in all media—from ceramics and sculptures to prints, paintings, and his large corpus of writings.
Foregrounding Gauguin’s conscious use of ambiguity, Gamboni unpacks what the artist called the “language of the listening eye.” Gamboni shows that the interaction between perception, cognition, and imagination was at the core of Gauguin’s work, and he traces a line of continuity in them that has been previously overlooked. Emulating Gauguin’s wide-ranging curiosity with literature, psychology, theology, and the natural sciences—not to mention the whole of art history—this richly illustrated book provides new insight into the life and works of this well-known yet little understood artist.

464 pages | 150 color plates, 30 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 4/5 | © 2014

Art: European Art

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“Gamboni plunges deep into Gauguin’s use of myth, symbol, and the unconscious.”

Boston Globe

“This is the book on Gauguin we have always needed—that Gauguin himself has needed—to do justice to the range of the artist’s mind and his creative vision. Gauguin was as adept with words as with images, so the pairing of Gamboni and Gauguin is a particularly fruitful one. Gamboni matches Gauguin’s range, introducing, as he passes from one aspect of Gauguin’s creative thought to another, relevant matters of cultural anthropology, perceptual psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and theology. Gamboni’s writing matches his topic, which makes it all the more engaging and important, not only as prose, but as thought.”

Richard Shiff, University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents

Introduction: Irritations, Echoes and Parables

1. Seeing Double

2. Dreams and Visions

3. You Are What You See

4. Matter and Material

5. From Puppet to Idol

6. Natura Naturans

Epilogue: The Eyes of the Sunflower


List of Illustrations




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