EU shipping is temporarily suspended

Oceanic Art (World of Art)

Nicholas Thomas


An authoritative survey of the diverse, dazzling and compelling art of Oceania


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.

Read More


'Excellent … Thomas’s choice of illustrations is exceptional and wide-ranging'
Pacific Arts

'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

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: Second edition

Size: 21.0 x 15.0 cm

Extent: 224 pp

Illustrations: 186

Publication date: 6 September 2018

ISBN: 9780500204405

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Revelations • 2. Ancestors and Architecture • 3. The Art of War • 4. The Art of the Body • 5. Mothers and Male Cults • 6. Barkcloth, Exchange, Sanctity • 7. Feathers, Divinity, Power • 8. Narrative Art and Tourism • 9. Decolonization and Diaspora • 10. Globalization and contemporary art

About the Author

Nicholas Thomas is Professor of Historical Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Among his previous books are Oceanic Art in the World of Art series and Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire, which won the Wolfson History Prize in 2010.

Related Topics