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Oceanic Art (World of Art) [Paperback]

Nicholas Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 May 1995 World of Art
The colours and patterns of the art of the Pacific Islands - spears and shields, carved canoe prows, feather capes or tortoisehell ornaments - have interested Western audiences since the voyages of Captain Cook and Bougainville. Oceanic art in particular, had an influence on the development of the European modernist movement, influencing artists such as Gauguin, Picasso, Giacometti and Kirchner. Until recently, the tendency in the West has ben to view the art of Oceania as "primitive", mysterious, shrouded in taboo. Nicholas Thomas, in this survey, goes beyond this view to discover the meaning and significance of art for the people of the Pacific. While each region has certain art forms and practices that characterize it - the ancestral carvings of Maori and Sepik ceremonial houses; rituals of exchange and warfare in the Soloman Islands; body art in Polynesia; and women's art forms, such as barkcloth - Oceanic art as a whole is continually being shaped by cross-cultural stimuli within the Pacific and beyond, combining local motifs and materials with new styles and techniques. The illustrations cover the works that evoke the most deep-rooted customs to those which address contemporary political issues.

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Oceanic Art (World of Art) + The Pacific Arts of Polynesia and Micronesia (Oxford History of Art)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; 1st Edition edition (22 May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500202818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500202814
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Nicholas Thomas was born in Sydney in 1960. He visited the Pacific Islands first in 1984 to research his PhD thesis on the Marquesas Islands, and later worked in Fiji and New Zealand. He has written many acclaimed historical and anthropological books, but also collaborated in exhibition and book experiments with artists including John Pule and Mark Adams.

His many books include Entangled Objects (1991), a celebrated exploration of the changing lives of things in the Pacific; Oceanic Art (1995), an innovative survey; Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003); and Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire (2010) which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize.

Thomas's exhibitions have included Skin Deep: a History of Tattooing for the National Maritime Museum, London, and Cook's Sites, for the Museum of Sydney (both of which toured extensively) as well as Kauage: Artist of Papua New Guinea and several other exhibitions at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, where he has been Director since 2006.

Nicholas Thomas lives in London with his partner Annie Coombes, and their son.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An almost thorough look at Oceanic Art. 30 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one that offers the high quality one would expect from The World Of Art series. Well-researched information as well as a good variety of images: Beadwork,drawings,scuptures,engravings,as well as more utilitarian artworks all feature here. My only complaint would be that there is not enough coverage on the iconic sculptures of Easter Island, which was one of my main reasons for buying the book. Otherwise,a very good book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful book into Oceanic art and culture 13 Jun 2000
By mickey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In his book Oceanic Art, Nicholas Thomas goes beyond the eye's view of the artwork produced from Oceania, giving the reader the background information and reasons why the distinct works of art were created. Thomas goes through each culture, giving and explaining examples to match the history of each respective culture. I was impressed by the thoroughness of Thomas, not only showing ancient artwork, but photos from Oceania today, as the respective cultures are being preserved. His analysis of the artwork was very well done as he not only explains the artwork, but gives the reader a sense of the culture also. Having studied art, I was impressed with all the examples and pictures in the book, then relating art with history. I would highly suggest this insightful book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A tough topic 14 Jun 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To my mind, this volume treats too many topics to permit a meaningful discussion of any of them. The result is a discursive discussion supported by very selective use of examples. There is no systematic overview of the material culture of any of the areas discussed, and there is only a loose connection between the narrative and the illustrations. The book might have been greatly improved by a more detailed discussion of the geographic and demographic background of the area(s) to be treated, together with a more systematic treatment of the extent material cultural of each area or the region in general. As it is, the chapters seem to have no clear beginning or end. They leave you wondering how what you've seen fits into the bigger picture of the artistic output of the area and oceanic art in general.
To be fair, however, this may not be the fault of the author. This is a tough topic to treat in a book of this length, intended for a general audience. The publisher might have done better to break the topic up into separate volumes.
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