Author(s): Nicholas Thomas
The dazzling colours and patterns of the art of the Pacific Islands have long entranced Western audiences, not least artists such as Gauguin and Picasso. The tendency has been to regard Oceanic art as 'primitive', mysterious and shrouded in taboo, but Nicholas Thomas, in looking at and beyond the familiar, stunning surfaces of masks and shields, carved canoe prows and feathered gods, discovers the significance of such objects, past and present, for the peoples of the Pacific. In this revised edition with a completely new chapter on globalization and contemporary art, he shows how each region is characterized by certain art forms and practices - among them Maori ancestral carvings, rituals of exchange and warfare in the Solomon Islands, the production of barkcloth by women in Polynesia - while also being shaped by influences from within the Pacific and beyond. The dynamism and diversity of this compelling art are highlighted by the works accompanying this revelatory text - from those that evoke deep-rooted customs to ones that address contemporary political issues, now illustrated in colour throughout.