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. 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.
'Excellent … Thomas’s choice of illustrations is exceptional and wide-ranging'
'In Thomas’s book aesthetics and ethnography support one another'
London Review of Books
'Distinctive for its ambitions, erudition and insight … a comprehensive and balanced review'
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute