The Devil Speaks (Mahna No Varua Ino), from Fragrance (Noa Noa)
Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands)
Woodcut printed in color on Japanese paper
block: 8 x 14 in. (20.3 x 35.6 cm)
sheet: 11 1/2 x 18 1/16 in. (29.2 x 45.9 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1936
Not on view
This woodcut depicts Tahitian men and women performing the traditional dance known as 'upa 'upa around a bonfire at night. Deemed pagan and obscene due to its sexual suggestiveness, the ritual was banned by Catholic and Protestant missionaries on the island. However, Tahitians continued to perform the ritual in secret, in defiance of colonial authority. Gauguin may have been witness to these dances while in Polynesia.
The formal complexity of the image is the result of three separate printings in olive, ochre and black; additional color was added by hand. The deliberate off-register printing technique gives the print a slightly blurred effect that only enhances its air of mystery and unfathomableness.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Prints by Paul Gauguin," February 23, 1971–April 18, 1971.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Art of Paul Gauguin," May 1, 1988–July 31, 1988.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Private Collection of Edgar Degas, MMA," October 1, 1997–January 11, 1998.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections," June 18, 2002–October 20, 2002.
Princeton University Art Museum. "Gauguin's Paradise Remembered: The Noa Noa Prints," September 25, 2010–January 2, 2011.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Gauguin: Metamorphoses," March 8, 2014–June 8, 2014.
Mongan/Kornfeld 19.IV.B; Guérin 34 iii/iii
Elizabeth Mongan, Eberhardt W. Kornfeld, Harold Joachim Paul Gauguin: Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints. Bern, Switzerland, 1988.
Richard Brettell, Françoise Cachin, Claire Frèches-Thory, Charles F. Stuckey, Peter Zegers, Isabelle Cahn, Gloria Groom, Marla Prather The Art of Paul Gauguin. Ex. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, May 1-July 31, 1988; Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 17-Dec. 11, 1988; Grand Palais, Paris, Jan. 10-Apr. 20, 1989. Washington, D.C., 1988, cat. no. 175d, p. 329.
Colta Ives, Susan Alyson Stein, Charlotte Hale, Marjorie Shelley The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, New York, 2002, cat. no. 78, pp. 104, 223, ill.
Calvin Brown, Alastair Wright Gauguin's Paradise Remembered: The Noa Noa Prints. Exh. cat., Princeton University Art Museum, September 25, 2010-January 2, 2011. New Haven, CT, 2010, cat. no. 18, ill.
Artist: Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands)Date: 1894Medium: Two inside covers decorated in watercolor and gouache over charcoal with graphite on heavy gray wove (blotting) paper sewn to leather; leather binding inscribed in pen and ink with additions in watercolor; multicolored silk ribbons stitched into binding.Accession: 2000.255On view in:Not on view