The Seed of the Areoi (1892; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

The Seed of the Areoi - Paul Gauguin - 1892; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleThe Seed of the Areoi
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1892; French Polynesia
Dimensions92 x 72 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US

About The Seed of the Areoi

“The Seed of the Areoi” is a notable work by Paul Gauguin, created in 1892 during his time in French Polynesia. As a piece rendered in oil and measuring 92 by 72 centimeters, it exemplifies the Post-Impressionist movement. The artwork, classified as a nude painting (nu), is part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, New York, United States.

The artwork depicts a nude figure, presumably a Polynesian woman, seated against a vividly colored backdrop that includes tropical flora and stark mountainous forms. The woman is positioned in the foreground on a red mat, with her legs elegantly crossed and a cloth featuring Polynesian motifs draped over one thigh. In her hands, she holds a small dark object, perhaps a seed, giving the painting its name. The intensity of the tropical landscape is palpable, with deep greens of the vegetation, the blue of the distant mountains, and the bright yellow of the palms contrasting with the pink flowers that seem to envelop the lower portion of the artwork.

Compositions of this nature from Gauguin are notable for their synthesis of local elements and Western pictorial traditions, contributing to the post-impressionist exploration of color and form. Gauguin’s use of flat planes and bold outlines reflects his departure from realistic representations, opting instead for a more symbolic and expressive portrayal of his subjects and surroundings.

The figure’s expression is composed and contemplative, drawing the viewer into a narrative that remains open to interpretation. It reflects the artist’s romanticized view of the indigenous culture, a common motif in his body of work from this period. The incorporation of local symbolism and simplified form speaks to the post-impressionist interest in non-western sources of inspiration, which were influential in the evolution of modern art at the turn of the century.

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